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i. Digger's Luck
3. Legend of the Tidal River Lea
P MAY 10 1894
NEW YORK Hl/kH^) *&
TROW DIRECTORY, PRINTING AND BOOKBINDING CO.
201-213 East Twelfth Street
Copyright, 1894, by
I, the Rhymer, graduated from the rudest of the
E'en the Tar, domesticated in a sphere which
Proficient notwithstanding, nor disqualified to gab-
To the courteous a " Salve," vice versa " Go to
Caring little if the others ever notice it or not.
Who stealeth an example thus is innocent of rob-
So far extremes may meet, it is desirable they
Hence " Salve," and the rule is true of egotistic
Which, thornlike, crackles audibly, thence " Go
to pot " is good,
If awkward, in this weary world of rugged rock
Being crippled in my flippers by a ruling prov-
A dispensation greeted with a philosophic scowl,
Yet having fared famously in every essential,
4 PREFA CE
And deeming gratitude debased by sycophantic
I garrulously register my tribute with a growl.
Unabashed by accident, an ignominious glory
Halowise and misty, o'er the puddle where I
And a heart enlarged by humbug, so I meditate a
Of a chain of circumstances with an odd defec-
Now seeking prosy utterance by way of printer's
If there be any merit, let it fall where it is due,
On the unseen hand of Providence, from whom
it surely strayed,
The errors are my property — a legacy to rue,
My conscience is unhardened by the exercise of
And he who buys may criticise, no matter what
I have an ancient pedigree, for which I see no use,
And data for events to make a condemnation
That the bilious tongue of misery may wag exceed-
Or a wiser brain enlighten with a scientific vim,
And may Providence enable me to do as much
'Twas in Rio de Janeiro, in the year eight-six,
On board a vessel chartered for the service of
That I found myself, one starry night, where sea-
men love to mix
And common fellowship ignores the law of social
Where the fragrance of tobacco adds a gusto to
We were anchored in the centre of that celebrated
The captain feared the deadly exhalations of the
The chief mate and second, with the bo's'n and the
A very decent lot of fellows, hearty, strong, and
After supper gathered forward on the hawser
6 SEA RHYMES
There were passengers aboard on the way to
An old Australian digger and a pair from Erin's
Alongside in the barges were the niggers working
Rattling and battling, and yelling all the while,
Who at intervals, in oddly tuneful chorus, drew
The crew were all Norwegian, so of course they
Apart from where our party talked the prospects
of the trip,
Made political surmises, or deplored the humid
But no one rose to spin a yarn — the bo's'n had
And who shall dare to beard the champion liar
of a ship ?
The doctor casually gave a favorable chance,
By speaking of a queer fish he caught the trip
Mottled like a leopard ; but the oddest circum-
Was the finding in its intestines a bit of silver ore,
For the doctor had dissected it, and sent the
DIGGER'S LUCK 7
The barber said 'twas possible to train a fish for
A notion born of opium, at which we gave a snig-
The frosty haired Australian thought very little of
But squatting down and smoking in the fashion
of the digger,
Proceeded to surround the doctor's story by a
"In eighteen-forty-four," said he, " when mining in
At Bony Ridge, a settlement of not the best re-
Its larrikins were desperate, the diggings half a
And citizens who strayed were blest with eye
and ear acute —
Night or day the custom of the people was to
" I had quarrelled with my sweetheart, either num-
ber five or six,
And feeling lacerated in my vanity or pride,
Had started for the diggings to elude her siren
Thinking I had seen her worst. Appearance
must have lied,
I have sadly found since we were matrimonially
8 SEA RHYMES
" Hustled by the emigrant of every hole and corner
Of the universe, I hunted up a decent-looking
And while we stuck together 'twas unhealthy for
And we panned out pretty even, after buying
bread and rum,
Likewise, though the life was hard, we revelled in
" Mornings, when the head was big, the ocean lay
So he and I were often in the water for a swim.
His name was Enoch Doxey, just a little of the
But a thoroughbred in principle, if fashioned
And the old man's voice was husky, and the
snappy eyes grew dim.
" Those days, a swim was something, for the
gentleman from China,
Who ran the little laundry where the public
wash was done,
Had been accused of leprosy by some impulsive
Who insisted on his treatment with a flourish of
So they hung him on a gum-tree — he was cured
in the sun.
DIGGER'S LUCK 9
" A sailor-boy was Enoch, in a suit of navy blue,
I was clad in canvas slops, and none too much
of those ;
We wore them ashore, and when in the water too,
Which was purifying — none of us possessed a
change of clothes
But influential men, and how the cemetery
" One morning," he continued, " we were out a fair
Near a lonely rock that jutted up just opposite
When without a moment's warning or a chance
to lend assistance,
Poor Enoch disappeared. With a strident,
I made the rock, a dozen hungry sharks in easy
" Darting back and forward, with the dorsal fin
Or launching downward rapidly and passing out
The number never lessened — they were evidently
On the scurvy trick of which I had been guilty
in my fright,
With a grudge against the balker of a healthy
IO SEA RHYMES
" And, boys, they hung around that rock from
early morn till dark,
The torrid sun extracting all the moisture from
I had left my pipe ashore, so I missed the mystic
A fierce thirst consuming me and partially fried,
Those hungry-looking monsters circling round
me greeny eyed.
" Night-time came, when moon and stars shed
down a silver twinkle,
The ripple of the ocean flashed a million jewels
Not a chance to sneak away — an oily, gliding
Where phosphorescent moving patches never
ceased to wear and tack,
Like swagmen waiting round a station door for
" Morning came, and all that day I lay without a
I might as well have danced a jig — they never
moved a jot,
And darkness settled down once more across the
grand old ocean —
A phrase which then occurred to me as idiotic
But circumstances often alter phrases, do they
DIGGER'S LUCK II
We cheerfully assented, for the yarn was interest-
The simple-hearted Mac and unsophisticated
Murmured, " Heaven help his soul ! " but nothing
We listened to the recital, conjecture running
As to how the hardy sinner got ashore with his
" Again the blazing orb of day sank redly in the
Midnight came on leaden feet, but lo ! a sudden
The sharks around my refuge were at sixes or at
And then I heard our old familiar hail at pistol
And Enoch Doxey's face loomed up, but pale
and somehow strange.
" Whether 'twas the glamour of the moonlight fall-
Or spell of pure madness, I'll not venture to as-
But there was Enoch with a nymph, her shoulders
Gliding through the wave. She had no bodice
to her skirt.
He was naked, so I said, 'Say, partner, where's
your shirt ? '
12 SEA RHYMES
" Ere answering he chose a crevice in the rock that
And placed his silent partner in an attitude of
I saw with speechless wonder how the two young
And waddled awkwardly along, as walking on
And her hair was simply lovely as it floated on
" She bowed with most bewitching grace and held
her head erect,
Waiting while poor Enoch spun the yarn of what
Though after what had happened there was little
And I beg to state respectfully that I was much
For their style (or lack) of dress appeared to me
a little fast.
" Then Enoch said : ' You recollect, I went below
My yell was choked in bubbles as I sank beneath
Where I met with Mrs. Doxey, this young lady,
Who saved me from the sharks in style excep-
And also from the horror of a cold and muddy
DIGGER'S LUCK 1 3
" ' By virtue of hypnotic power she laid me cata-
All but thought suspended, there I lay upon the
Friend, you stare ; in such things I also was a
All my preconceived ideas came suddenly to
What I've seen these last three days would stag-
ger all belief.
" « Firstly, she produced a knife of ominous dimen-
Swam beneath a plant nearby, and left me there
And when a shark came swimming up with sinister
She watched it swallow both my legs, and
crunching flesh and bone,
Which caused a dull sensation like the crackling
" ' When nearly half-devoured, tho' the brute had
room for more
The mermaid darted out, and carved away the
Splicing veins and arteries, suppressed the flow of
Joining all the tendons as they naturally led,
And sewed the edges neatly, with her hair for
14 SEA RHYMES
" ' Splitting up the tail, secured a leg in either sec-
Which by some healing magnetism grafted very
Thus I lay for half a day, when, making an inspec-
She loosed me from my lethargy, a truly wel-
Though I woke in thirty fathoms by the glim-
mer of the moon.
" ' Another shark who came along, with enterpris-
Nibbled speculatively my neck, but she, alert,
Distinguished it forever from its ugly fellow-crea-
Delivering a vicious cut which evidently hurt,
As it lost no time in leaving, though it tore away
" ' Presently I felt my strength returning by de-
Nursed with all the lingering devotion of a
The fish amalgamated with my lacerated knees,
The breathing apparatus worked as well as any
Or otherwise, you know, beneath the water we
should smother.' "
DIGGER'S LUCK I 5
The digger said : " I waded in and felt around the
Altho' his skin was clammy, and I got my
trousers wet ;
" But there it was, a half-healed ridge," continued
he with unction ;
" And Enoch then objected, saying it was tender
So I had to get aboard the rock again, to my re-
" ' So,' Enoch said, ' when strong enough to use my
I wandered round and saw the sights, or with
this lady tarried
(A loose expression which provoked some comfort-
Until by love and gratitude our feelings were so
That we went to Father Neptune, and were hon-
" ' They wedded us last night, upon a sunken man-
A little way due north from here she foundered
in a blow ;
Her hold is full of canvas bags, and weighty bags
Seized with wire and leaden seals where royal
But what may be inside them I'll be jiggered if
1 6 SEA RHYMES
" He should have said ' be chegoed ' in that vivid
form of speech,
Referring to an insect which, tho' very small
Adheres to the human epidermis like a leech,
Burrowing beneath it with a diabolic knack,
And leaving some severe inflammation in its
"'All round the reef and wreck is plenty paying
I picked a fairish nugget up, and brought it on
Saying which, he passed it out. I found the sample
But when I passed it back to him, he waved his
And here it is " — the digger passed it out for our
" Possibly I dreamed it all, but there is the nugget,
Identically same as that presented by my friend,
If otherwise, I really don't remember when I dug
All our store the night before had come unto an
We generally rioted while dust was there to
When all had seen the curio, he put it in his
Resuming the narration of this singular affair.
DIGGER'S LUCK \J
(The barber bought it afterwards to make a ladies'
And presented to a widow, with a lover's knot
" No doubt of it," the digger said, " I must have
had it there.
" Enoch told me how they lived, and what they had
Spoke of certain dangers mermaid people should
Told me things I dare not ask for fear of seeming
Which the wife not understanding did not seem
a whit annoyed,
And summed up their existence as contentment
" ' My wife and I,' said he, ' converse by some mag-
Though when we reach the upper air I try to
teach her this.
I have given her instructions and she's picking up,
by Jingo ! '
And Enoch looked so radiant with pride and pure
That the pretty little mermaid murmured musi-
cally, ' Yiss.'
" ' We have no money, therefore no treacherous
No social law, so that we never hear of actions rude ;
1 8 SEA RHYMES
We have no vices, hence remains our unimpaired
Total lack of dress has banished snob or skinny
And we have the choice of all the sea to forage
in for food.
" 'And we were on our honeymoon when, struck
by one idea,
We changed our course and steered back toward
this sunken rock,
Put the sharks to death, or flight, discovered you
And shall both be much delighted to escort you
to the dock,
If you think your nerves sufficiently recovered
from the shock.'
" Assisted by the pair of them, I safely swam ashore,
Where Enoch shook my hand, and said, ' Fare-
well, my trusty chum,
Unless you should be drowned at sea, we meet
again no more.'
But waiting while I rummaged out a hidden jug
We drank the farewell snifter until grief was
" The last I saw of Enoch, why, he was not griev-
His bride was towing him to sea, his tails refused
to crimp ;
DIGGER'S LUCK 1 9
In hand he held a trident, trying to use it as a
As the pain in what were legs produced the feel-
ing of a limp,
Or impotently jabbing at some inoffensive shrimp.
" Picking up the jug, I started homeward by and by,
But ere I took the lonely road which led toward
I have no shame to tell you that a tear stood in my
And I took the belts and weapons that were hid
before we went
From the ken of prowling biped of felonious in-
" Indeed my stores had suffered. I had lost a spare
A powder can had evidently' offered up a spoil ;
Things were tossed and tumbled round, which
made me very wroth
With tramping scamps who never spin or follow
Tis a mercy to amalgamate such rubbish with
" But I baked the fatted damper, made the tea, and
The way it disappeared would have made your
20 SEA RHYMES
Slept like moral justice, which is something rare
and sweet —
Remember that I had no sleep when on that
rocky jail —
And when I woke 'twas afternoon, and blew a
" Driving down the tent-pegs hard, I sauntered to
Noticing a drift of spars and rigging there and
Admiring the shelly growth encrusted thick on
Barnacles and oyster-shells, with odd subaqueous
Evidently deeper growth than any growing near.
" Remembering what Enoch dropped about a sunk-
en vessel —
Which Neptune used as chapel or a rendezvous
Where mermaid fair or merman bold could gayly
swim or wrestle,
With the innocent abandon of unutterable leis-
Whose hold was bunged up to the hatch with
bloated bags of treasure.
" Here I found a topsail yard, and farther on a gaff,
A tangled heap of twisted shrouds all thick with
DIGGER'S LUCK 21
The handle of a parasol, which somehow made me
Bolts and iron trappings, eaten badly by the rust,
The woodwork either petrified or falling into
" Presently I saw a plank half hidden by the sand,
Which once had been elaborately carven, one
Though part of it was battered off by friction with
There were certain letters in relief, occurring
Which I puzzled out as ' Bull-dog,' after study
ing a spell.
" By dint of some exertion, I contrived to hack the
Obliterating every mark. Then, plunging in the
Proceeded to the diggings, where I shot a native
Also a ruffian in my tent, while burgling my tub,
After filling up his worthless hide with valuable
The doctor eyed the digger with an air of interest,
Remarking that the latter was a questionable
But the digger called it justice, and, moreover, of
22 SEA RHYMES
For, he argued, idle bones assist the land to grow
With other necessaries for the workingman to
" He never knew what hit him," he continued with
" And I was only mourner, for I dug his narrow
I searched his pockets, previous to tumbling him
When I blundered on a nugget from the grave,
so that, instead,
I dropped him down a barren shaft — 'twas lucky
he was dead.
" Poor Enoch ! He and I had suffered many a
As we lay in bed undreaming of the luck be-
neath the floor ;
And had it been reported now to members of the
My chance of ever profiting was likely to be
Especially as I had helped to wipe out three or
" Fortune smiled on me that day, for with a single
I gathered in more golden pay than for a year
DIGGER'S LUCK 23
Which proves that he who kicks against an evil is
And Providence will see his luck is second unto
Providing he survives ; if not, we mourn him as
" Nugget after nugget went to swell my golden
To quite enough to settle on, and live a life of
But haunted by the vision of the treasure sunk
Poor Enoch's man-o'-war, I dreamed of more
than bread and cheese,
As who would not, whose future promised can-
vas-back and peas ?
" Later on the pocket failed, so, making for a bank,
I tried to boom the city with my treasure-hunt-
Was jeered unanimously as a visionary crank,
Whose most poetic yarn of mermaids a la bare
Was pretty, but improbable as, say, the sunken
" Here I saw my fickle maid, and being reconciled,
Discovered that a woman may be wonderfully
As artful as ' Old Harry,' or as artless as a child,
24 SEA RHYMES
When she sized up my misfortune with a sym-
And advised me to return to Bony Ridge and
" So, starting in alone, I bought a modern diving
A patent boat, in numbered sections, perfect in
Stores, ammunition, tools, to either build or dig,
Hiring five adventurers before the party quit,
With horses and a wagon to convey the heavy
" To cross a hundred miles of bush infested by the
Armed with spear and waddv, or the mystic
Which flies in such a manner that it circles whiz-
And once I followed up its queer gyration with
Which added one more bogie to the spirits of
" The black believes in spirits, be it ghost or alco-
The latter kind is coveted, the former greatly
So after dark he hugs the fire with superstitious
DIGGER'S LUCK 2$
And many an angry squatter, when his sheep or
beef were speared,
Has shot them thus like vermin, till the debt was
" A rather curious process is a native liquor-mak-
Sooty lubras evolute the grog between their
Which product, when fermented well, would set
the stomach aching,
If an elephant partook of it ; but not the black's,
His paunch is not amenable to ordinary laws.
" In dietary habit he is subject to vagary,
The product of the bunya-tree will draw him
many a mile.
Becoming surfeited thereof, his appetite contrary
Lets him masticate his enemy, or mutton, with a
A Chinaman is reckoned as a remedy for bile.
" No fuss occurred with them this trip ; the num-
ber of our rifles,
Or the rollicking revolver as it dangled from the
No doubt were marked — they accurately study
mere trifles —
For not a man of us received a spear in his pelt,
Which, lightning-winged and keen, inflict a
most terrific welt.
26 SEA RHYMES
" 'Tis a pleasant life, for healthy men to travel in
Camping out, to sit at night around the ruddy
In perhaps a sheltered hollow, where a crystal
stream may gush,
Heaven glowing gorgeous \y with many-colored
And the breezes fanning coolly, after flaming
sunny days ;
" An ashcake baking slowly on the embers of the
A kettle odorous of tea, a drop of spirits too,
A rousing yarn delivered by a systematic liar,
The string upon a tripod twirling steaks of kan-
A pot of bubbling mutton, or a dainty parrot
" The pipe of variegated hue, whose soothing
Around the blissful cranium, evolving many a
Of bygone happy racket with a varied sort of
And the usual regret — the idiotic might have
Unmindful of the torrid heat that withered up
DIGGER'S LUCK 2J
" Then slumber deep and holy settles solid o'er the
Like a marble tombstone pinning down a phil-
But one lone sentinel awake, to watch for roving
A brute of gory instinct, with a sight exceeding
With arms of modern make, to perforate a sinner
" Early in the morning, when the skies are paling
The laughing jackass cachinnating diabolic glee,
We rise and hurry breakfast through, and getting
Travel onward till the evening sets the tired
horses free ;
In such wise we continued till we came unto the
" The diggings were deserted, but the shanties still
A richer find up country had attracted them like
Everyone had packed a swag, with little he could
The journey of some ninety miles forbidding
weight or size,
Where the peril of the wilderness is naught to
28 SEA RHYMES
" We confiscated articles to build a roomy shed,
Fitted up the patent boat, and rigged the diving-
After practising a time or two with water over-
They mastered all my signals, and were working
Though at first my head felt awkward in the
narrow copper cell.
" One morning when the day was fine, the ocean
calm and still,
We anchored out beyond the rock — the tide was
I donned the apparatus, and they started up the
Shipped the weight upon my neck and let the
And was lowered down the ladder very carefully
" A certain giddy buzzing seemed to paralyze my
As the pressure from the water drove the blood
into my head ;
But when my eyes were 'blest with normal vision
I found myself entangled in a trailing weedy
With myriad forms oi ocean life in each direc-
DIGGER'S LUCK 29
" Queer plants with scaly arms, which slowly waved
Odd protuberances on the slimy mottled stalk,
Enormous fan-like netted leaves, half petrified, no
Underfoot were coral sprays of many branching
Whose pointed tips were sharp, and made it
dangerous to walk.
" Graceful vines and filaments suspended in the
Gorgeous bearded flowers palpitating in the tide ;
A mellow greenish lustre through the water seemed
On the colors of a lunar rainbow, much intensi-
Wavering as silent as a panoramic slide.
" Lovely mosses pendulous on prickle-studded limb,
Glistening bulbs with whiskers, vied with spiny
ball or stump.
I was sunk in admiration, when my eyes grew
My head began to swim. I thought, ' A fool is
at the pump ! '
Then something hit my helmet front a spirit-jar-
" Looking up, I saw a fish of most unusual size
Tugging like a tiger at the tube that furnished
30 SEA RHYMES
Which, throbbing to the steady stroke, had caught
the glassy eye,
Appearing like an eel perhaps — t'was well it
From logic being used unscientifically there.
" I watched my opportunity, it downward swooped
Then drove my dagger deeply in the region of
And much to my relief it wobbled over like a
In fact, it yielded up the vital spark with scarce
Otherwise I might have gone across the fatal
" Yet felt a bit regretful as I saw the colors fade —
Golden green and purple streak, or blue and
crimson tint ;
I would have liked the skin, in all those brilliant
To deck my home when wealthy, that the en-
vious might squint
At something unattainable by coin of the mint.
" Solemnly I chopped amid an audience of fishes,
Who smelt around with more or less desire to
take a feed.
All but one young shark behaved according to my
DIGGER'S LUCK 3 1
Till with the axe I smote him one, which sent
him off with speed,
Perhaps to fall a victim to another fellow-greed.
" I was struck by the expression of these gentry
once or twice.
Their features had a character, as with the hu-
man race ;
Where shrimps appear innocent, and cuttles favor
A white man-eating shark can show a philan-
And like philanthropists will need considerable
" Poor shark ! his tender youth was tough ; what
courage he displayed,
What knack of dodging peril and absorbing
handy scraps ;
How course of time developed it, what social
mark it made,
What multitudes have testified, in spite of all
Is reverent tradition to the lesser sharks, per-
" For when he smiles a toothsome smile between
his frequent meals
(Providing nothing happens his ideal will to
He plainly looks the generous idea that he feels ;
32 SEA RHYMES
The little fishes view him as the sparrows do a
And have reason to be thankful if the creature
" Nature, wisely vetoing a spurious equality,
Has fashioned one formidable, another weak and
Well enough, and even cause for philosophic
Azrael smites all alike. O Runt, subdue thy gall,
Cease to grunt and grumble ; it is not so hard to
" Hacking at the obstacles, I happily emerged
In a level patch of shelly sand, when near me
A wreck careening over, and as eagerly I urged
My cumbrous way alongside, I recognized it
The dilapidated relics of an ancient man-o'-war.
" Crusty lichens clustered thick about her copper
Weedy pennons wabbled from the ragged stump
of mast ;
A yawning cavity exposed the laden hold beneath,
Where bags, as Enoch had described, were here
and there cast ;
My mind was in a tumult as I proudly thought,
' At last ! '
DIGGER'S LUCK 33
" I signalled up at once for rope, and made the end
To a copper bolt projecting from the vessel's
battered side ;
Thinking, tho' I knew the place, 'twas better to be
Then ascending went aboard the boat, and left
a buoy to ride,
And related my experience with confidential
" The second day was stormy, and the next was
A week had passed away without a venture from
And then the bully of the gang informed me, with
That they had talked it over and concluded to
As they were not men to labor for another fel-
" When entering this enterprise, they called it rare
Gambling or worse pursuits had proved a sorry
Now that chance had given them a downy bird to
They formed a precious union, according to the
And honored me, their ' Moses,' with the role of
dupe or tool.
34 SEA RHYMES
" A most unpleasant bolus, I absorbed it at a gulp —
I meant to get that treasure up, and trust the
rest to fate ;
Alone, I could have pounded anyone of them to
But seeing odds were heavy, I decided I would
And suggested that he call a meeting to de-
" We spoke in solemn council o'er the advent of the
Swore an oath of brotherhood to share what was
Excepting my expenses, which I thought was very
That the treasure-trove was sacred until all was
And it somehow struck me then that later on I
might be drowned.
" Of this I never said a word, but in my leisure hour
I lined the diving suit with reeding, pliable and
And noting that they looked upon the matter rather
Alluded to the sharks and said I baited for a bite,
At which remark they laughingly agreed that 1
" Calculating that in case the air-tube should part,
The weight of water naturally pressing to the skin
DIGGER'S LUCK 35
Would clog whatever effort I could manage from
Where the suit distended thus would stop the
water pressing in,
And counteract the gravity of leaded moccasin.
" It worked a little stiff at first about the arms and
But showed a great improvement after using
once or twice ;
And presently I learned to move about in it with
Never losing any chance to pad or perfect my
Considering my safety very cheap at such a price.
Not being apprehensive yet, for I was sure of this,
No member cared to risk his precious life below
But had a strong suspicion that affairs would go
When the booty was recovered from its tem-
porary grave ;
So I stowed a lot of stuff away, unnoticed, in a
" The same that I and Enoch used in days, alas !
gone by ;
'Twas there we left our weapons ere that final,
And the old man paused a moment to project a
36 SEA RHYMES
Then continued : " No one knew of it, excepting
I and him,
And I had kept it secret from the prompting of a
" A can or two of powder and some weapons disap-
No one made remarks, it was not safe to cogitate,
Communities become polite when treachery is
Everybody's firearms were fully up to date,
In case enthusiasm got the better of debate.
" In course of time the weather cleared, the sea was
smooth as glass,
We pulled out to the vessel, dropping anchor by
the buoy ;
So down I confidently went. It also came to pass
That after sending up a load, I signalled ' Boat
alioy ! '
And found the blessed mob of them delirious
" Some proposed to open one, to make the matter
The rest were very certain that for such a bulk,
Was surely gold or silver, may be dust, but very
So we buried all unopened with the digger's
And started out again to get another precious
DIGGER'S LUCK 37
" I came across a turtle poking round among the
Stirring up the sand in quite an animated style,
Got a fair slanting cut, it paying little heed,
Beheading it, altho' the flippers twitched a fair
After being hauled up in the boat to swell the
" Whereby I nearly lost my life. The flavor of the
Spreading through the current, advertising far
Allured a monster devil-fish (they like their rations
Which with horrible contortions straggled sway-
ing thro' the tide,
And chased me in the hold, where luck enabled
me to hide
" In a locker, near a barrelful of navy pickle beef,
Which it tackled in a fury, squeezing in the oaken
And tho' 'twas over average, the creature came to
For it swallowed down a morsel, then a frightful
And, collapsing, died. I also had a rather narrow
" Whether 'twas the pickle or the toughness of the
Being unimaginative, I must let the doctor judge ;
38 SEA RHYMES
I opened out the stomach, found the fatal bit com-
And a pair of leather pantaloons, digested into
So I came to the conclusion that it owed itself a
" And having nerves, I told the men a tale about the
Or sand, by lapse of time accumulated in the
Requiring time and labor to remove it from the
I took a pick and shovel to substantiate the game,
But started on a tour round the vessel just the
" Laying off the leaden weight upon the helmet rim
Enabled me to rise at will by paying out a cord,
Then hauling up the weight thereby and placing it
in trim ;
I stood upon the upper deck for years unex-
Without the people in the boat assisting me
" Her starboard rail was shattered in some bygone
The port side entire, which, inclining by the slant,
Had banked the scuppers up with sand to level
with the rail,
DIGGER'S LUCK 39
And made a level promenade, unchoked by ocean
Which every here and there sprouted up luxuri-
" Fallen from the carriage lay the ancient carro-
Never more to vomit death or cripples at the
Shot stood in the racks, from which the lashings
And silent now the voice which used to bellow
' Let her go ! '
But oh ! it was a dandy place for barnacles to
" The pins were rusted in the rail, where hung the
Of fossil rope, existing yet from countless coats
Here I found a square cake of common navy bread,
In which the water had not penetrated very far,
Which testifies to what substantial edibles they
" The deck was clear fore and aft, from where the
Away unto the quarterdeck, and poop of fair
Beneath which was the armory, and cabins, I sup-
40 SEA RHYMES
For the non-commissioned officers, whose lot in
life was bright
If they had a cuddy large enough to shelter in
" Here were arms of ancient make, all swollen up
Boarding pikes, and cutlasses resembling pagan
A skylight on the quarterdeck was darkened by a
While nearby a double wheel had rotted to the
And looked unspoken havoc through a double
row of stubs.
" Hairy bordered jelly-fishes, wallowing the stream,
Shells were crawling o'er the deck, of varied
shape and hue,
Richly stained and polished, or with iridescent
Then I spied a bed of oysters, gaping juicy
where they grew,
And my soul was sublimated by a dream of oys-
" Stepping down the midship hatch, I did not
Ere on the captain's cabin floor I found a set of
DIGGER'S LUCK 4 1
A casket in its fingers made of carven fluorspar,
Containing-, as I ascertained, some valuable stones,
Which the skeleton had grabbed before it went
to Davy Jones.
" 'Twas food for speculation what these relics
might have been,
In that proud, imperial period, a British captain's
So picking up the skull I tried to conjure up the
But a dozen rusty hairpins proved it must have
been the wife ;
There lay also ruby eardrops and a slender silver
" The captain's bones I shortly found, asprawl upon
A broken flask lay near, once containing rum, I
A liberal grin suggested that he died extremely
The sockets seemed to flicker with a double-bar-
And a bony arm extended, as declining more to
" A sorry-looking spectacle — the table dropped
Furniture decayed or lying sodden on the floor,
Slimy ooze and weeds upon the panels once so
42 SEA RHYMES
Water running riot in the place of rare store,
And a merry mob consuming, with an appetite
" Nearer to the port stood a rusty iron chest,
Large enough to hold a man, but tightly shut
And when I loosened up an end, by way of making
Of the weight contained therein, it flew up over-
head and knocked,
As I pried away the fastening by which it had
"Consideration proved the cause — the chest was
And being firmly wedged unto the deck could
Presently I found two money lockers, not so light,
So lashing all together so that none would go
I launched them through the stern port by a
" Another day I lugged them out between the ship
Took a line and lashed the heavy specie to an
The balance of the rope through both the iron
DIGGER'S LUCK 43
Kept the chest suspended upright, anchored
firmly by a bend
That would slip and run, according as required
" Returning to the forward part, I stove the fore
Descended crazy iron steps, and lo ! the home of
With hammocks scattered o'er the deck in sodden
The bony parts of skeletons protruding from the
Like relics of some murderous piratical attack.
" She met her fate at midnight, it was easy to be
From a batch of stony firewood in the for'a'd
galley grate ;
The coppers both were empty, and were turned a
Then I left the seamen's quarters, as the time was
By the ladder, which was in a most dilapidated
" Returning to the breach below, I loaded up again,
The last we took ashore that day. My chest
was growing weak,
Heavy breathing warned me of too long-continued
44 SEA RHYMES
And in the upper air I found it difficult to speak,
From odd sensations in the lungs, as if they'd
sprung a leak.
" Working every day, except an accidental spell
On squally days, or when the gang were danger-
ous with grog —
Times I never went below, I dare not, truth to tell —
For no one man could fairly work a pump and
dance a clog,
Which hits the insane humor of the jolly drunken
" On first investigation of the sunken vessel's hold,
I stumbled on a barrelful of rare old oily rum,
And sent it up, incautiously — the sequel I have
With a score or two of rotten-looking cases,
Handy bottles of the fluid seemed to magically
" Time brings all things to an end, and so the cargo
Till naught remained of it but scarce a comfort-
The company grew surlier, and muttered of the
Or the surplus which was clue to me according
to our code,
And also of the time when we should all be on
DIGGER'S LUCK 45
" 'Twas evening, but they urged that I should finish
up the job,
So that to-morrow we could rest, and portion out
the spoil ;
And on due consideration this idea of the mob
Was adopted, and I willingly returned below to
For the darkness would befriend me in the case
of any broil.
" Leisurely the bags went up, till there remained but
And that went too. And then I gave the signal,
' Finished work.'
Instead of being hoisted up I found the air gone,
The anchor hoisted hurriedly with frantic, hasty
The tube and line were severed by a hatchet or
" All this went rushing through my mind more rapid
than a flash.
I cut the tube and stoppered it — the valves were
(I signalled from the chest, 'Hooked on '), and,
steadied by the cash,
I paid the line out quickly, till I saw a starry
Then took the helmet grating out, and found my-
self all right.
46 SEA RHYMES
" Keeping well submerged, I kept the buoy before
Dimly saw them pull ashore, and land the pre-
Apparently not dreaming that their victim was not
Then buoyed the line, and got the floating chest
on to the rock,
Fastening the painter to an upward jutting block.
" And when I saw their camp-fire flaring out upon
I stripped, and swam ashore, with the rig and
Which I hid with weed and wreckage in an inlet of
Visited the cavern, but discovered nothing
Donned another suit, and took a nip of something
" Not omitting sundry weapons, ere I made a furtive
The gang had every reason to resent my scurvy
And doubtless they would do their best to wipe a
So I travelled very carefully, avoiding every
But progressing through the bushes in a manner
DIGGER'S LUCK 47
" Their camp lay in a hollow, by a little trickling
A rock ran parallel with it, and bushes on the
Made a cover for a fair view. The air being still
Transmitted very clearly any word they chanced
And the tableau they presented would have
shamed a liquor-shop.
" Seated in a circle round a bonny blazing fire,
Pannikins were passing from a bucketful of rum,
Their bloodshot vision leering with a maniac de-
On a treasure-bag, all eager for whatever was to
While their leader held a chisel 'twixt a finger
and a thumb.
" Carefully he cut the wire and dropped the leaden
Opened out the brittle bag by one impatient rip.
A solid earthen jar appeared, on which the busy
Wielded by the Judas of the gang, began to clip,
For the lid was well cemented to a wide project-
" Fiercer glared the eyeballs of those ruffians in the
Excitement lent a tragic mien to features coarsely
48 SEA RHYMES
Then click ! the lid flew off at last, amid a breathless
And plump, upon the floor, full among the worth-
Fell a heavy blackened sample of an English
" Then spoke the burly villain, but in strangely al-
Saying, ' Partners, this is mermaid craft,' and as
they all were tight
None objected to the theory. ' And now,' said he,
' the bones
Of the boss, with all our wages, are at Davy
Then took another tot of rum, and staggered out
" Aghast, they stared, ' the horror of a brutalized
Till someone broke the silence by remarking,
4 'Twas a spell.
Our leader engineered that evil business over there.
Now he is drunk and sleeping, therefore easier
I vote we execute him.' And they took it very
" For they put a bullet through the modern Jonah
of the crew,
Then opened half a dozen bags, but found no
DIGGER'S LUCK 49
So, being greatly mystified, and feeling rather blue,
For the advent of the puddings was unnaturally
I very quietly wriggled off, and soon was out of
"And feeling pretty sure none would track my
I brought provisions out, and lit a fire in the
A damper and a can of tea, a rare cut of meat
From a kangaroo in splendid form which I had
Anticipating that affairs were getting rather hot.
" Shaking out a truss of twigs, a blanket neatly
I soon was sleeping soundly by the fire's fitful
But echoes of the late events came trooping
through my head
With a strain of disappointment like a sorrowful
Till I found myself below the wave — of course,
in a dream.
" I dreamt I slew a devil-fish, and severed all the
With the jawbone of a sailor, when I had an
The genuine sea-serpent which was seen by Cap-
50 SEA RHYMES
Having scented gore, came rushing like a cy-
clone from its lair,
Its eyeballs coruscating with a most unpleasant
"And it happened in my vision, being near the
By some severe exertion up I scrambled through
And sinking down beside a gun, hysterically laughed
While the monster twined his scaly length in
Or clashed his jaws and snapped in truly vicious-
" Then a narwhal, with a rushing swish of water,
From the jungle patch of seaweed like an arrow
from the bow,
A spiral ivory tusk into the reptile body crashed ;
Mud and sand arose in clouds, dissolved by dire
And they vanished, locked together — I rejoiced
to see them go.
" Looking round the deck, which was phenome-
And level as the surface of a board newly planed,
An inspiration struck me that it probably had been
Neptune's private ball-room, which my presence
Polished up with scaly tails and curiously
DIGGER'S LUCK 5 1
" And even while I cowered in my shelter by the
Neptune sailed majestically by me with his
I knelt in mortal terror, yet I quite enjoyed the
They paired off in couples as the folks ashore
But the queer gyrating figures of the dance to
me were new.
" Neptune waved a measure with a trident held
A bushy-bearded merman swung a nymph in
Her features quite transfigured by a look so coy
And my heart went like a hammer when he
kissed his chosen girl,
But as couple followed couple, why, it made my
" Anchors, hearts, and arrows, worked in red and
Were tattooed on each bare arm or bosom of the
1 Sailors of the Bull-dog come to visit her again ;
The watch on deck, most probably/ I thought,
' could tell a tale
Of the sinking with their vessel in that long-for-
52 SEA RHYMES
" If not, they were as lively as the tars before the
Can hardly fail to be when there's a woman in
I watched the curious revel out, and when they
A happy look was patent on each rugged sailor
While the mermaids were the essence of a culti-
" Neptune, with his massive limbs and noble figure-
Left a whirling wake of water to the rear as he
With Amphytrite, his fair queen, although her hair
And decency would recommend that ladies
should be dressed ;
Yet the beauty of her figure really cannot be
" Her tail came into contact with the rusty tube of
A subtle living magnetism gave me quite a
The next I knew, a rumble like the roar of a lion,
A belching flame, a flight, a fall, a fearful heavy
I woke — to find I'd fallen off the bed upon the
DIGGER'S LUCK 53
" ' That blessed gun was loaded/ I remarked unto
While scrambling half mechanically back upon
Where, sinking into slumber, all my worry on the
My sleep remained as peaceful, also dreamless,
as the dead,
And when I woke the sun was shining brightly
" I visited the other camp, supposing all asleep
In the lethargy of drunkenness, as often happed
And crawling to the parapet, I stole a furtive
But stared, for the site was now a cellar, littered
With broken bits of wreckage, but the shanty
was no more.
" An open keg of powder in the stores had been
Which promptly paid the compliment by firing
The gang were blown to atoms, with a finish I
Save one — as blind as forty bats, not mentioning
Which must have been most exquisite, to hear
the beggar sing.
54 SEA RHYMES
" He thought he was in Hades when he heard my
well-known voice ;
When undeceived, he fell into a pitiable fright.
I was more inclined to pity his misfortune than re-
When he told me of the tragedy that took away
The shock of which inspired my dream and
tumble in the night.
" I bandaged up the caverns where his eyes were
wont to shine
With tepid tea and cotton, which appeared to
give him ease,
Thanked my lucky stars I had the proper use of
As I led him home, I found him, crawling on his
hands and knees,
By the rivulet, and bumping on the rockery and
" They healed up very slowly ; it was after many a
That he went out to the buoy with me, assisting
in the scow,
When we hauled up both the boxes in a clumsy
kind of way,
And floated them ashore, half suspended from the
With a bag of keys and trinkets unavailable till
DIGGER'S LUCK 55
" We drew the chest up on the beach and chose a
Punched a brazen plate along the closely fitting
And found the lock uninjured, for the end was
entered free ;
We turned it over twice before it shot the bolt
Then we hammered on the hinges till the cover
" Whatever we expected I am sure I forget,
As I recollect the items of that queer fricas-
A wreck of satin wedding-dress, some ornaments
A diamond necklace, rubies set in tarnished
Discolored by long sojourn at the bottom of the
" The chest had once been fitted up with neatly
In which were jumbled yellow lace of pattern old
With sundry foreign notions worked in most ec-
Documents, and human fads, for which I did not
Though certainly I wondered at a pad of musty
$6 SEA RHYMES
" I picked a dainty missive up at random from the
Worded most effusively, with crest of some pre-
Congratulating someone in aristocratic style
On his marriage with a fair dame of rank and
With felicitbus allusions to the crowding and ex-
" The date was hardly legible, 'twas seventeen
So I took another paper up, and scanned the
Which related to the trading of some valuable pelts,
A note of smuggled spirits, and a list of foreign
With a pamphlet on the scientific management of
" Next a parchment, decked with royal arms and
Of his majesty King George the Third, appoint-
ing from the date,
To the sailing-vessel Bull-dog, for the British com-
Sir William — I forget his name — to rule subordi-
And administer according to the dictum of the
DIGGER'S LUCK 57
"'Twill be seen in English history of a hundred
That George the Third was born and educated
on the soil.
He married well and wisely, and pursued a pru-
So Whig and Tory patriot deferred politic
And burnt a common fire to make the royal
"The nation bubbled over with enthusiastic zeal
At the gorgeous coronation of this paragon of
Then a certain class of sentimental cranks began to
For the misery of murderers and prison scatter-
And formed a club to furnish them with fruit
and diamond rings.
" Not native vagabonds, or those whose trespasses
were venial —
Such vermin were neglected, being little under-
Charity at home was relegated to the menial,
Who pampered the policeman of the near neigh-
And generally succored all the relatives she
58 SEA RHYMES
" Perhaps a holy nimbus hung around the vicious
Whose liberty was forfeited by every just de-
Or the great reforming remedy was jewelry and
But the charity hysterical, however that may be,
Grotesquely boomed the project with a philan-
" Missionary meetings furnished subsidies of cash,
Private generosity contributed as well —
If any doubter sneered, he was stigmatized as rash ;
In short, it was the fashion, and to borrow, beg,
For the benefit of rascaldom was reckoned very
" And when each worthy manager had fingered o'er
Twas found that diamonds were too dear for
such a modest sum,
So that twenty thousand puddings (made and
neatly packed to keep)
Were given for the hardened of colonial prison
Each present supplemented by a flask of pure
" Parliament, influenced by petitions and the like,
Put the Bull-dog in commission for the carriage
of the stuff,
DIGGER'S LUCK 59
And when she sailed away the captain, happening
A case of spirits, broken when the sea was rather
Took to sampling the liquor, but he never touched
" Being unfit to navigate the vessel up the coast,
The officer in charge, half drunk or taking little
No matter if the sailor was on duty at his post,
They struck the digger's rock, which pierced the
bottom of the boat,
Then drifting onward foundered — and the pud-
dings wouldn't float.
" This I gathered mostly from the log-book in the
The captain's bride was spoken of no more than
I have told ;
The boxes held the sailors' pay, and money for the
Of a man-o'-war's expenses, which are simply
There was eighty pounds in silver, thirty thou-
sand more in gold.
" I have very little more to add, excepting that a
Occurred in Bony Ridge again. The diggers
came like geese.
I hid away the money, built a shed with plenty room,
60 SEA RHYMES
In which I stowed the bags. My luck continued
to increase ;
I sold the lot, and averaged a sovereign apiece,
" Then got my stuff together, joined a city caravan,
Got there in a week. The jewels found a ready
Married there, and settled down, a fairly wealthy
I travel now for pleasure when the colonies are
And that's about the finish of the digger's queer
He rose, and slowly ambled somewhat stiffly down
We sat and watched him vanish like the ghost of
The bo's'n never afterward was quite so apt to
The Irishman and wife ejaculated something
Being mentally constructed on a sympathetic
The first and second mate pronounced the story
pretty stiff ;
The steward swore profanely that a mermaid was
Had seen one in a quicksand from a certain lofty
DIGGER'S LUCK 6 1
But admitted, when bedazzled by the doctor's
That it happened on a pay night after many
The doctor's verdict on the yarn was plausible
A psychologic trance was indicated as the cause
Of Enoch's resurrection, and the finding of the duff,
Unconscious action of the brain, obeying certain
Evolved, perhaps, by instinct operating on the
In other words, insanity induced by dire thirst
Had conjured up the mermaid scene, and lent a
nerve to dare.
Luck attended his escape, but having swallowed
A draught of old Jamaica while delirium lingered
A monomania governed his ideas unaware.
For curious coincidence of dream or omen proved,
He cited from the lotteries, where numbers came
Visions haunting murderers, and brothers oddly
Tho' many miles apart, if harm hit either of the
And of accident occurring after people feeling
62 SEA RHYMES
The barber said he didn't know, and there he told
He used a deal of opium, poor fool; his face was
And his wit at times was stupid, though the poor
Had not slit a throat, or shown the least pro-
clivity to bite.
So they let him shave the passengers, in case he
some day might.
The bo's 'n and the rest departed, each unto his
While the night relay of niggers did their best to
And now I've written out the yarn for what it may
As a specimen of stories told upon the briny deep,
And wondering if, like the digger's puddings, it
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE.*
Existence is at best a muddy liquor,
Drunk with somewhat varying effect ;
Some eternally inclined to bicker,
While others pose as being the elect ;
Another blunders on, a chronic kicker,
Or mouches by with moral feeling wreck'd,
Whereat the learned jibe, yet know no quicker.
In spite of a superior intellect,
The ultimatum of a speculation
Beyond the grave, or happily — cremation.
Eccentric in detail, the system jogs,
Some labor, others may manipulate
The subtle tricks of trade, as needful cogs,
On wheels that whirl in manner intricate ;
So branches, leaves, and twigs, ere heavy logs
Are fashioned in a ship to navigate.
Here and there I notice men or dogs
Are valued for their pedigree, a state
Of things endured by the toiling crowd,
And animals who cannot think aloud.
* Notice. — All names used in this story are fictitious.
64 SEA RHYMES
Labor to the strong may rival leisure,
And in necessity a merit lies ;
The rich and poor enjoy in equal measure
Their raiment, provender, or exercise ;
Peril mingles in with garnered treasure,
Invisible to ordinary eyes.
There is a limit unto every pleasure,
Excess is certain to demoralize.
Habit dominates ideal sense,
Even when improved at great expense.
The human soul is rather hard to please,
'Tis somewhat prone to avaricious greed ;
Yet God is just to even selfish ease,
The chief initial cause of squalid need,
Whose feeble ranks perpetuate disease,
Prolific in a germinative seed,
Which travel on the breeze where It may please ;
And where those atoms find a home, they breed
The ignorant, the wise, the foul and fair
Exchange ideas through one common air.
To hamper wrong enormous sums are spent,
Religion sells a theologic clog,
And yet a strong, instinctive discontent
Pervades creation ; the domestic dog
Would chuckle at the picture we present,
Were he as gifted as the human hog,
Whose bacon keeps a god-like essence pent,
To wallow through a treacherous verdant bog,
Where one, to rise above his struggling brothers,
Must build a firm foundation from the others.
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 65
Life is as time and circumstance may choose,
Not altogether as the man may toil ;
Thus may a fool be able to illuse
A wiser man who labors in the soil
But who again, by having naught to lose,
Can bear with easy grace this mortal coil,
While they whose fortunes are the more profuse,
Inherited or fruit of legal spoil,
Tho' proud of all these valuable talents,
Are thereby hampered. Nature hits the balance.
He who toils to share the common booty
Has little time to exercise his wit,
The steady friction of diurnal duty
Is apt to dull the keener edge of it ;
But, daily labor over, if it suit, he
May breathe in scented air ; he may sit
Amid some scene replete with solemn beauty
Where shadows dim mysteriously flit
Among the plumy trees of sable hue,
Whose big blurred hands are gathering the dew.
Where darting, fiery atoms flash and fade,
While glow-worms burn a tiny emerald light,
Who forage clear of hidden ambuscade
And vanish at the least alarm from sight ;
Here crickets wheedle shrilly serenade.
And phosphorent fungus, gleaming sickly white,
Has warned me of a stump along the glade,
As frequently I stumbled through the night
To Honeywells, from halfway up the mountain,
Which lies about a mile beyond the fountain,
66 SEA RHYMES
To where old Brown, upon the village green,
Inhabited a cosey little cot —
A better fellow never yet was seen,
Or more contented with his humble lot.
Many of my leisure hours have been
Spent by his fire, or 'neath his porch, o'ershot
With climbing foliage, whose tender green
Lent privacy and beauty to the spot ;
Where as we sate my host would oft retail
The floating legends of his native vale,
Or, bringing out a polished ebon flute,
Send rippling trills of music through the dark.
The echo of the whip-poor-will grew mute,
The village mongrels even ceased to bark.
His music far and near was in repute,
And surely he had the vital spark
Of genius, which fires the golden brute,
Whose grin is fame, whose caprice makes the
Distinguishing the slave who can create
From he who toils contented with his fate.
When wintry winds blew keen, or chilly^ drizzle
Roared drearily around, or drowsy dript,
And seasoned logs sent up a cheery sizzle,
While scalding tears in the ashes slipt,
The fitful blaze converting silver grizzle
To silver gilt, as cosily we sipt
A bowl of an exhilarating swizzle,
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 6]
Compounded from a favorite prescript,
A potion which could ne'er improve our walking,
But added ease and fluency to talking,
We often talked till late into the night,
I questioning, he giving explanation
With great good humor, often throwing light
On some lost link or doubtful situation
Which in the tale hereafter written might
Be some small aid to recognize location,
Or act interpreter to wrong or right,
Not always free from some equivocation.
I fain would be punctiliously true
In this my tale of Olane and Hoodoo.
Her name was Olane Merley. Long ago
She made the poetry of this rhymic tale.
Hoodoo, a queer title, that is so.
My hero had no other name. I fail
To follow up his pedigree. You know
Him simply as a hunter of the dale
And mountain-side. So, starting thence, I go
Cautiously to follow up their trail,
And whether the result be ore or sludge
Time will elucidate, for I'm no judge.
Away beyond where rude Atlantic weather
Beats restlessly along Columbia's shore,
Two lofty hills may yet be seen together,
Joined by a ridge profusely wooded o'er,
68 SEA RHYMES
Which, rising greenly through the bracing ether,
Shelters a verdant valley, sloping lower
To level meadows, gay with flowery bells,
Where sleeps a village known as Honey wells.
No one was e'er reputed to discover
Beneath or on the land a well of honey,
Unless it may have been some rustic lover
At tricks most properly defined as funny.
Tradition said the rocks and hills above her
Somewhere contained a hidden store of money.
But whether buried in a well or cave
Was just the doubtful point nobody gave.
Fact was they had no wells ; a mountain stream
Supplied them water crystallinely pure,
Which, given brains to advertise the scheme,
Had coined money as a water-cure ;
But no, it sparkled downward like a dream,
A homely blessing, innocent of lure,
From whence the veriest tramp might freely take
E're dancing on to Yellow Lily Lake.
Over a fall, its waters foamy tossed,
Where spongy mosses wept a trickling rill,
There jewels scattered, disregarding cost,
With roaring splash or devastating spill,
Then here among the lilies it was lost,
But iridescent bubbles, floating still,
And glistening foam, in witness of the shock,
Went floating round the base of Castle Rock.
HONEY WELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 69
Huge gray old rocks, by wind and weather worn,
Adorned with colored moss, in queer fret,
With ragged turrets rising up forlorn,
Stern and silent with a lone regret ;
Half way down, a shelf, where caverns yawn
Like ruined windows, unexplored yet ;
The rock o'erhanging bars the upper face,
And waters deeply gather round the base.
The lake grows narrow, running by the valley,
But broadens widely out towards the west,
Skirting the western hill diagonally,
Water-lilies floating on her breast,
Whose gorgeous single yellow blossoms tally
To an odd title happily express'd.
'Twas fringed about with graceful trees and bushes,
With here and there a patch of big bulrushes.
A patriarchal tree grows outward o'er
The lake, about where land and water meet
With Castle Rock ; its trunk appears to bore
The solid limestone, fitting very neat
Into a rift ; though hollow to the core
And half decayed, the storm may madly beat
Or work destruction on the higher ground,
That tree is safe, if not so very sound.
For 'tis a monstrous, gnarly, natural freak,
The bloated, knotty roots set close and stout,
As some enormous pudding-bag might leak
And harden to the angles spread about,
JO SEA RHYMES
Or lapping from the edges like a beak
To gripe the seamy limestone in and out.
The natives knew the place as Elfin Bower,
And judged it shapen by some mystic power.
Pigeons dwelt among the leafy boughs,
Where creepers densely clustered up aloft,
And echo, answering their loving vows,
Weirdly multiplied their cooing soft
To most peculiar rolling, rumbling rows,
Which, carried by the breeze o'er lake or croft,
Like demon chatter in a tongue satanic,
Suggested half a superstitious panic.
Two ponderous arms like trees of goodly size
Went up and outward to a fair height;
Two other mighty limbs went slantingwise
Down to the bank, where, chancing to alight
On rich black mould, unable to arise,
Had evidently rooted firm and tight ;
The branches trailing out upon the water
Had formed a bower fit for Neptune's daughter.
Big vines like serpents twined up from the bank,
And clung with spiral fold from limb to limb,
Around the fork the foliage hung rank,
And loosely matted by some queer whim
Of Nature o'er a hole. I had to thank
A large oppossum and a quiet swim
(I only caught a transitory view)
For what became a valuable clew.
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE J\
For, stepping up on lacing vines, I found
A natural stairway leading to the fork,
Not to be gained directly from the ground.
The limbs were steep, and slippery to walk ;
But from the lake, or by an active bound,
The wiry vines were gained, from thence to stalk
Along was easy, as I said before,
And by the scars had been in use of yore.
Reaching the fork, I held the vines aside,
But no opossum there met my view ;
A gloomy aperture opened wide,
Into the trunk. I did not venture through ;
The place was dark. Perhaps if I had tried
I might have got into a pretty stew,
While walking, naked, down that yawning gulf,
Opossums bite as savage as a wolf.
A little arbor lay behind the screen,
From whence I had a comprehensive view.
By peeping through a crack the lake was seen,
The village opposite by peering through
A knot-hole which had evidently been
Enlarged in times remote — with care, too —
And on the other side, in front some distance,
A splendid mansion once had known existence.
But now it was a picturesque old ruin.
Its crumbling relics, delicately stained,
Were carven windows, where the breezes blew in —
'Twas five and forty years since they were
J2 SEA RHYMES
A creeper-covered wall, where sparrows flew in
And found a shelter every time it rained.
The place is oddly nicknamed Merley's Pyre,
From one who perished over there by fire.
The place was burned completely to the earth,
Old plate and bronzes lost beyond recall,
Rare tapestries, of almost priceless worth,
Which hung about the broad and lofty hall,
Old furniture whose carving challenged mirth
Or merited applause, the fire destroying all,
With costly pictures brought across the seas
From Italy, the land of dirt and fleas,
Where nevertheless are lived illustrious lives,
There marble grows to something nearly life,
Where music in the atmosphere strives
To find melodious vent ; a jibbering strife
Of greed and fiery blood and ready knives.
The lower classes juggle with a knife,
And truly 'tis a pretty tool to summon
A soul to judgment, often through a woman.
The woman is a fateful circumstance
For good or evil in the universe,
To mesmerize poor mortals with her glance,
Who laugh, weep, pray, or impotently curse,
While on occasion man, by evil chance,
Destroys her fragile soul by grief, or worse — ■
The theme has an unlimited expansion —
A woman fired that same old ruined mansion.
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 73
How that occurred will presently transpire,
As I continue in this narrative,
Which now concerns the honorable squire,
Or otherwise, as needfully reparative,
Whose gore was very blue, by dam and sire —
The hue of Reckitt's blue was pale comparative—
A wooden-headed, arrogant old Briton,
Who wanted half the universe to sit on.
A great-grandfather some time in his day
Had done a deed of service to the nation,
Which, being grateful, granted, by the way,
Estates, which fell by legal operation
To Merley, who had failed to make them pay
The larger dividend of speculation.
He therefore emigrated, dealt in stocks,
And built the mansion facing Castle Rocks.
Seen from the balcony the view was fair.
The wooded mountain, brooding o'er the lake,
Which glittered silvern in the sunny glare,
And shallow reedy tarn or ferny brake
Where bobs the jerky water-fowl, aware
For prowling stoat or gliding water-snake ;
The black-snake or the copperhead prefers
The higher land, where an odd rattler whirrs.
A shady drive went outward to the road,
Where towering pine and graceful silver birch
Join spreading beech, now speckled with a load
Of prickly husks. Here tiny warblers perch,
74 SEA RHYMES
Immense gray squirrels leap, the bright-eyed toad
Below expectant waits, with eager lurch,
For variegated lunch, serenely made '
From butterfly or moth allured by the shade.
Fresh laden with accumulated sweets,
Sipped from the cup of weedy flower or plant
That blooms about the place in vivid sheets
Of brilliant hue, and odors which enchant
The brain with fragrance, here are rustic seats,
Where Merley eyed his daughter half askance,
For she shone like a gem upon the earth,
He like a rock, so jewels have their birth.
'Tis foolish now to rave about her hair,
Report says raven, wondrous thick and long ;
Her eyes were dark, perhaps of beauty rare,
Her figure being perfect, she was strong,
Her face divine — but hang it, who will care
To hear the hackneyed rigmarole ? — her tongue
I won't disturb, the brain is apt to soften
When female tongues are stirred, I've noticed
She and her father wandered here together,
Her rosy, laughing face so fresh and pure,
His features wrinkled like morocco leather,
With beady eyes, which ragged brows obscure,
A scrubby beard and pimples — know not whether
They were his birthmark, Nature's signature,
To mark the artificial upper crust,
From healthy brutes, who live much as they must ;
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE J$
A short, thick neck, a cranium rather shiny,
Of figure squat — if this description passes,
His manners surely would, tho' somewhat spiny
And supercilious to the lower classes ;
Hands and feet unusually tiny,
A circumstance admired by the masses
(The eyes of cavern fishes in Kentucky
Grew out of sight from idleness unlucky).
His stony calm had once been rudely shaken
By some poor farmer's daughter he had sighted,
And hotly chased, to find himself mistaken ;
The girl was not disgusted or delighted.
He had to marry her or be forsaken.
She wedded him, parentally incited,
And in a year my heroine was born,
The mother dead, and Merley left forlorn.
Intensely selfish, still he had a heart,
Or nervous organ, sensitive to grief ;
Misfortune smote him like a poisoned dart
Cast by the hand of some vindictive thief,
But time rolled on and healed the keener smart,
And other cares brought him some relief ;
For Olane grew more winsome day by day,
And stole her father's hard old heart away.
For her he sold the old ancestral home,
Impoverished by profligate possession ;
No need to scan the silly epitome
Of what is not remarkable transgression.
76 SEA RHYMES
He emigrated, satisfied to roam,
Took an active part in the procession,
And now success had crowned each daring scheme,
Olane nineteen, and fairer than a dream.
He built a factory as times improved
Some miles away from where he reigned as host,
But kept it quiet, as dignity behooved,
His ancestry once more became a boast ;
The firm was called a company, but proved,
When Merley later on gave up the ghost,
To be that individual alone,
Whose guiding hand was hitherto unknown.
He was not loved by those he lived among,
His business methods clipped a little short ;
The factory hands declared he should have hung
For keeping stores where goods were dearly
The price deducted from the hardly wrung
Yet scanty pay, inadequate support
If promptly paid, which rarely occurred,
Yet until then complaints were rarely heard.
'Twas easy trade, the dupes would oft forget
The tardy pay-day, balanced to the tittle;
When many a man was proved to be in debt,
The firm would trust those employees a little ;
With such as bought elsewhere, at odd times met,
Their patience was proverbially brittle.
Such promptly were dismissed, on some pretext,
The game to be continued on the next.
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 7*]
But Merley's purse was full, Olane was fair,
Wealth and beauty, tempting bait for gallants,
She had the choice of such as wandered there,
But always deemed them wanting in the balance ;
Which suited our old hero to a hair,
Who sent to England for his nephew Clarence,
His brother's son, a dandified what is it,
To pay his wealthy relatives a visit.
" And if," thought Merley, " it should be a match,
My name would be perpetuated by it,
The property entailed." Ideas hatch
Much as an egg contains the proper diet
Whereon the chick evolves. With great despatch
An answer came ; they chose to gratify it.
The nephew shortly sailed from London city,
Humming the chorus of a comic ditty.
He tragically hummed the vulgar chorus —
Poor fellow, he was leaving home forever ;
The parents bade adieu with grief decorous,
He'd nearly ruined by a long endeavor.
How many of us know what lies before us?
When safe across, no lapse of time could sever
The stirring memories of deep emotion
Caused by this trip across the briny ocean.
He brought a pair of pistols, richly mounted,
For safety in the land of lawless passion —
Such at that time Columbia was accounted ;
His garments were, however, in the fashion.
78 SEA RHYMES
Then, all the perils of the trip surmounted,
Excepting the disposal of his ration,
He landed, glorious with Old World knowledge,
Expensively acquired, some at college.
He reached the mansion when a sunset fine
Had dyed the landscape like a fairy scene ;
With gold and crimson sheen the waters shine,
Amid a tracery of branching green,
Beneath an arch of clustering woodbine,
The skies, where rose and violet clouds careen,
Presented such a brilliant panorama,
Our noble immigrant ejaculated " Mamma ! "
It was the proper slang among his set
To thus express a sudden admiration,
But when the fair Olane her cousin met,
It somehow would not fit the situation.
What it was he stammered, I forget;
But there he yielded to the fascination
She had for everyone, became her slave,
And fed his hopes on every smile she gave.
His uncle bade him welcome to the place,
Courteously spoke of their relations,
But noting the expression of his face,
While Olane lingered, hurried explanations,
And bluntly stated, when alone, the case,
Finding a ready ear to his persuasions.
Of Olane's inclination naught was said,
But theirs were settled ere they went to bed.
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 79
A dinner in elaborate array,
Attended by a dozen guests or more,
Who chattered in the ordinary way,
Or gossiped of the sinner who was poor ;
They gorged and drenched their fragile earthly
They sipped, or smoked, or listened to a bore,
Then severally drifted off to slumber,
And nightmare visited the greater number.
Clarence dreamed that his spirit upward soared,
While melodies arose that the earth can ne'er af-
Olane had a cold, so she simply lay and snored
Till the world was up and doing.
Poor fellow, afterwards he miserably fared,
For he haunted her with a fond heart bared
Till the poor young thing grew positively scared
At such persistent wooing.
'Twas a time of emotion, of the dainty scented
Of a critical analysis of poetry he wrote,
Of a tinkling guitar in a damp duck-boat
To a voice in the moonlight thrumming ;
Till the stars peered clown in amazement sheer,
They bobbed and twinkled in the water clear,
And the fresh-water mermaids wailed " O dear !
What a wretched mortal strumming ! "
80 SEA RHYMES
At length they had to stuff their little tender finger-
In the delicate ears, like the shells of lemon-pips,
And their tiny harps floated up like water-lily slips,
As he bellowed of a beautiful " Bedouin."
In the hammock on the balcony with idle grace
Reclining she listened, as the night fell o'er the
And a piquant smile crept sweetly o'er her face,
As she musically murmured " Bruin ! "
'Twas seen as he slept in the sad face dreaming,
It glittered wild in the dark eyes gleaming,
Cupid wrote a wrinkle on his forehead, deeming
Another affair gone wrong ;
For it mattered nothing to the maiden fair,
Little did she know, and less did she care,
But the zephyrs frolicked in her raven hair,
As she tripped right merrily along.
So she left him alone to a fancy vain,
And the aimless ache of an empty pain,
To a dark despair, but to worship her again ;
'Twas a most instructive schooling.
Moping alone, he would moodily sit,
With a glowering jealousy or morbid fit ;
'Twas a curious case of a biter badly bit
By a Providential ruling.
Morosely he eyed that fair young creature
With lovelorn look, as if to beseech her
To learn of love, to allow him to teach her, -
With the guile of an ardent tongue ;
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 8 1
Then a merry glance or a conversation
With a rival aroused him to indignation,
And it seemed, by the force of infatuation,
That the whole wide world went wrong.
For he had no chance. She knew not how to dance,
Old Merley eyed such phenomena askance,
Knowing by experience the force of circumstance
And the perils of sensation ;
For the simple maid who dances may at first a
mere scholar be,
Comparatively ignorant of human physiology,
But surely gains a knowledge of a dangerous biol-
Hence Merley's strong disapprobation.
Clarence ne'er proposed to her, his courage sank,'
For he judged he would surely be refused point-
And his nature never having been remarkably
He naturally took to scheming ;
For her fair young face he could nevermore forget,
He found her power more powerful yet,
As a fish when snared in the fatal net
Is past all self-redeeming.
I leave him there to get along uneasily enough
In a romance the poetry of which was rather rough,
Tho* probably the trial polished down a cruder
By a process of refining ;
82 SEA RHYMES
It roused his ambition for a worthier mark,
Tho' his aim was crooked and his course lay dark,
And the life of another hare-brained young spark
Was one of sore repining.
Olane lived on, unmoved, perhaps, except
That new ideas into subtle being leapt
And faculties awoke which before had slept
By some magnetic evolution ;
For a sincere love has a power to sway
The fate of another in some occult way,
As an idea works until, lo ! one day
A people rises up in revolution.
In the tangled web of the wild surmise
That vegetates on what may be hidden from the
For a pure young soul some peril lies,
Owing to her curious constitution ;
But how that problem was ultimately solved,
And to what extent she became involved,
In proper rotation will be probably resolved
In the course of the following effusion.
How calm and smoothly whirl the wheels of time,
When the tired laborer returns to rest,
And lays aside his worries with his grime,
Leaving abstract existence at its best!
A quiet country life contains the prime
Of happiness to him who has a zest
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 83
For tranquil peace and knowledge how to chime
His life to this ideal ; he is blest
With true philosophy. Down in the village
They theorize on scandal or on tillage.
Down there the moon is shining overhead,
The sky is clear, stars are twinkling fine,
The simple maid has sought her lowly bed,
And lights in cottage windows cease to shine,
Tho' an odd swain by blushing beauty led
Is tramping round untired, a fatal sign
That two more lunatics will shortly wed
Their love and poverty, a poor combine ;
The usual result, a hungry brood
And everlasting scramble after food.
Show me a man bewitched by maiden fair,
Fallen 'neath the magic of a glance,
Tangled in that enervating snare
Till matrimony seems his only chance ;
Fain would I whisper to that man, " Beware,
Trust not the cruel luck of circumstance ;
Count your resources first, then if you dare
To pay the fiddlers fee, by all means dance ;
Perhaps the fun is purely inoffensive,
But to an amateur it looks expensive."
Samson lived to rue the evil hour
Wherein he fell beneath Delilah's rule ;
All records show that superhuman power
Availeth not a poor unmarried fool,
84 SEA RHYMES
The wariest of all are trapped in bower,
Then made subservient as toy or tool ;
And solitude will turn a temper sour,
Or cause a fiery temperament to cool,
It leaves a tinge of disappointment sore
On spirits that were angelic before.
Hence marriage is the lesser ill to do,
Though when the time of trial comes along
It may inflict a mental twinge or two ;
As sharps and flats occurring in a song,
Joy and misery will jangle through
The music of the matrimonial gong ;
Sickly yelling babies, awful stew.
Never being there, may be wrong,
I have no inclination leading from it,
Or spare cash to buy the golden grummit.
Not far from Honeywells, those days, there dwelt
An odd philosopher, who never knew it,
His buckskin garment cut from softened pelt,
Knowing, as a hunter, how to do it.
I cannot tell you how his name was spelt,
His father had no tongue, the Indians drew it,
Delighted with the agony he felt,
Tho' afterwards he gave them cause to rue it ;
He never spoke to the wee child who cried,
But he would smile each time an Indian died.
No one knew the place wherein they slept,
The crazy hunter and precocious child
Who by some law of Providence had crept
Out in the woods when savage hands defiled
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 85
Their happy home. No mother's wise precept
Had trained his mind ; he grew up strong and
In woodland craft he ranked as an adept,
Of ignorant virtue, always unbeguiled,
He rarely spoke, excepting when they made
Odd trips to town for purposes of trade.
Skins of various animals they slew,
Venison or other kinds of meat ;
Honey from the hollow trees that grew
And furnished hives to store the fragrant
Patiently hoarded by the wild bees, who
By flying straightway home invite defeat
Of their united effort ; knowing two,
When loosed apart, will join at their retreat,
The hunter marks and flies them far asunder,
The air-lines crossing o'er the luscious plunder.
Times change. The Indians migrated west,
Settlers came, the wilderness was tilled ;
The scarred old hunter laid him down to rest,
His spirit went to join the foemen killed ;
The son remained, a mark of interest,
But public curiosity was chilled
By evil rumors, doubtfully expressed,
So accident arranged it as he willed ;
They shunned not he alone, but where they saw
Which made it very comfortable for him.
86 SEA RHYMES
He grew up nameless till a drunken nigger,
Who listened to the stories that were told
Of cunning trap or an unerring trigger,
How he Avould seem to vanish through the
He leapt with extraordinary vigor,
The number of his tricks was manifold,
Yet was he handsome, and of goodly figure,
Impervious to either heat or cold ;
They marked poor Sambo turn a whiter blue,
Who said the boy was certainly Voodou.
" Hoodoo ? " repeated they, a slight mistake.
The darky never noticed it or gave
Much fuller information, save to make
Them understand that he had been a slave
In Southern States, where, venturing to take
His liberty, 'twas Voodou's will to save
Him from the bloodhounds tracking through the
That afternoon poor Sambo found a grave
By walking in the lake, wherein he sunk,
His friend escaped, tho' both were very drunk.
His quondam comrade, stupefied with drink,
Vociferously yelled awhile for aid,
But stood and watched the helpless negro sink,
The water being far too deep to wade ;
Then rushing past and leaping from the brink,
The hunter's son dived in the lake, and made
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 87
A futile search ; the undertow, I think,
Had carried off the body, to be laid
In some obscure mud-hole, nevermore
To see the light. Then Hoodoo swam ashore.
The garbled tale had left an evil fame
Like a dark cloud about his curly head,
Few but who were much inclined to blame
His evil arts for Sambo's weakly head.
They dubbed him Hoodoo, and he bore the blame,
The object of a vaguely cherished dread,
Except, maybe, a tender-hearted dame
Who sorrowed o'er the lonely life he led,
Deeming his talents wasted as a woodman,
Or dreaming he was tin ned into a goodman.
But Hoodoo lived beneath the forest tree,
And never yet had fared a whit the worse ;
High in the mountain, satisfied to be
Sole ruler in his little universe ;
A wild existence, prone to disagree
With civilized ideas, his perverse
Philosophy preferring to be free ;
He scorned the civil system as a curse,
Whereby the mob are pitilessly set
To slave, without the breeding cattle get.
Over the hills a shallow valley forms,
A lovely place, of verdant mossy slope
And hollow stump, wherein the wild bee swarms,
Where creepers ramble, hanging down like rope
88 SEA RHYMES
From hoary trees, fit bulwark from the storms
Of either side ; a view of ample scope
Toward the southern sky, whose sunlight warms ;
Here deer feed, the timid rabbit lopes,
And chipmunks glide amid the curling frond
Of graceful fern or gnarly roots beyond.
Where flowers in rainbow guise are gayly peep-
And rhododendron cast a sober shade,
Wiry vines are sinuously creeping
Amid the wreck their harlot habits made,
Sparkling insects, tiny spangles leaping,
Dodge the odd humming-birds which haunt the
Their slender bills in nectar whilom steeping,
Like scraps of fire from a sunset strayed,
And butterflies go wavering about,
Lost in delicious paroxysms of doubt.
Where rivulets diffuse a diamond tear,
Or gurgle down a miniature glen,
From dizzy little cliffs intoning clear,
And whirling in some wee aquatic den,
Where hungry microscopic horrors leer,
Or dart around in crazy fury, then,
Demurely gliding, ends a short career
Lost in the bowels of a pigmy fen,
Bloated reeds and juicy-looking grass,
Nodding and flirting over the morass.
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 89
Here Hoodoo lived away from everyone.
His hut lay in a lofty, sheltered nook
From here to hunt the woods, or sagely con
The lessons in Creation's open book,
More varied vanities than Babylon
Displayed on earth, in air, or rhyming brook ;
All practised earnestly, the poetry gone
For philosophic eyes, which keenly look ;
Every separate item in the list
Cancelling some other to exist.
He viewed a thousand tragedies a week,
In every tone of this uncanny key ;
He noted how the strong absorbed the weak,
Unless they had the policy to flee ;
Each queer device or variegated freak
A veil to hide a sudden treachery ;
Rejoicing that he was not doomed to sneak
Along the social gutter furtively,
As many honest men must do to live,
Where good men work and philanthropic give.
'Twas natural to hunt his daily meat.
Exciting to be hunted by the bear,
Whose massive hams are very good to eat ;
He knew the dens they fancied as a lair,
Their skins were valuable, cured neat.
He hunted bees when he had time to spare,
And fished the little river at his feet ;
The only outlet of the lake ran there,
An easy road to travel, for he knew
The way to build the Indian canoe.
90 SEA RHYMES
In summer-time, when skies were burning blue,
This woodland life was very nice indeed.
Game to furnish food and pastime too,
Furs to deck a springy couch of reed,
No fetid drudgery to worry through,
Unbound by any social law or creed,
His log-built hut a shelter from the dew
And storeroom for future time of need ;
For winter came this way, with snow and ice,
When life up here was not so very nice.
When vegetation droops in damp decay,
Root and branch in paralytic doze,
Tempests gurgle round in frosty play,
Hurling rainy sleet or pelting snows,
Those dead old chumps a slimy face display,
From dripping tear, or rivulet which flows
Down on the thorny skeletons that sway,
Weeping for bygone joy and present woes ;
But spring returns and soothes away the pain,
And summer paints creation up again.
Oft when a roebuck fell before his gun
He stript the hide, and hung it up to bleach,
Then loading his canoe with venison,
He paddled to a town in easy reach,
Selling it, and with the money won
Procuring ammunition, filling each
Necessity he knew; at setting sun
Returning down the lake, along the beach,
And crossing over from the northern shore
Entered the river, reaching home once more.
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 9 1
Olane had often seen him thus returning,
And naturally was a little curious,
Betraying sudden eagerness for learning
To navigate. Her father, not penurious
On points whereon her august will was turning,
Bought her a skiff, of style somewhat luxurious,
To gratify her bona-fide yearning ;
'Twas very genuine, this sudden notion,
And she betrayed some gratified emotion.
Oft, in the course of ordinary chat,
Olane had heard about the hermit youth,
Had even passed him, when she noticed that
Report for once had partly spoken truth,
For he was handsome, active as a cat.
Tho' evil rumor, with a venomed tooth,
Had poisoned his fair fame, the tale fell flat
On Olane's ear, she heeded not, forsooth.
He followed her with an admiring glance,
But neither spoke, until they found a chance.
When, after many a slip and nervous shiver,
The dainty plaything moved at her command,
One day she entered the forbidden river,
Which led between the hill and forest land,
Excitement sending a delightful quiver
Through every nerve, when, drawn up on the
She spied a bark canoe, enough to give her
The missing clue ; so landing near at hand,
Where all around the rushes rose above her,
She sallied forth, determined to discover.
92 SEA RHYMES
Then Hoodoo gained the bottom of the hill
Through flowery jungle, tangle truly wiry,
And each, astonished, paused to gaze their fill
Or make an entry in a mental diary,
While vague, sweet music seemed to mutely
Along a glance of mutual inquiry ;
Then Olane turned, whereby a wayward frill
Hooked fast among the vegetation briary,
Utterly upset the maiden's gravity,
And stuck like an inherited depravity.
I might have said the centre of, but then
The metre called for something not so long,
Also 'tis doubtful if my erring pen
Has stated the idea so very wrong,
When damsels gaze on very handsome men,
With sparkling eyes, of shapely limb and
Who set a person on their feet again,
Without a single movement of the tongue.
This Hoodoo did, most courteously grave,
For courtesy is common to the brave.
She fell, of course, with that peculiar grace
The blunders of the fairer sex announce,
Nor rolled, as any man would, and debase
The language by a word I can't pronounce ;
And then, her feet regained, with blushing face,
While Hoodoo frees her dress, her tact sur-
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 93
An awkward pause by asking if the place
Was equal to the wonderful accounts
Which rumor gave, or if tradition lied.
Then Hoodoo volunteered to be her guide.
'Twas wrong. Perhaps this was the time to leave,
But Olane was not open to distrust,
Besides, a pistol lay inside her sleeve,
With which her aim was usually just.
No reason had he given her to grieve,
So, having broken through the outer crust
Of their reserve, determined to achieve
The feat, she meekly followed in the dust
Along the bank, till, parting through a screen
Of hanging vines, a beaten path was seen.
But Hoodoo, ere they started, had required
A promise from Olane to never speak
Of what she saw, as it was not desired
That all should know the secret of the creek ;
Her curious nature thus unduly fired,
With palpitating heart and flaming cheek,
She pierced the thorny belt to this retired
Retreat where Hoodoo dwelt, and one might seek
Another way in vain ; a precipice
Bounded in every other side but this.
And much she saw which served to animate her.
They scaled the highest peak, not pointed, but
A little hollowed, like an ancient crater,
While bushes round the rim completely shut
94 SEA RHYMES
All view out from the distant speculator ;
Here was built his humble little hut.
From this high point, unseen, the fair spectator
Could view the hamlet, by a shorter cut.
And one more circumstance to fascinate her,
From here her father's mansion could be seen,
Encircled in a ring of living green.
Then Hoodoo made a fire, prepared a meal,
The fuel charcoal ; as he spread the feast,
Inviting her, with hospitable zeal,
To share therein, as might some rustic priest
Offer a sacrament to those who kneel.
And she, from all formality released,
Humored her host, but talked and laughed a deal
More than she ate or drank, but never ceased
To question Hoodoo of his life and history,
Which hitherto was enveloped in mystery.
He answered her. He could not recollect
The outline of a mother's kindly face ;
His early home by fire and savage wreck'd,
The mother perished. In his father's case,
They tortured him — no white man need expect
A scrap of mercy from the Indian race ;
His tongue cut out, they left him to collect
Sufficient strength to roast — escape, and chase.
How Hoodoo got away he never knew.
Then showed her Indian scalp-locks — forty-two.
They settled ere the turnpike was a track.
Then pointed out his tomb, a heap of stone.
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 95
His father lived till thirteen years back,
But more of his life was never known,
Or of the Indians' murderous attack,
Except his father's trophies. All alone
Here Hoodoo lived, nor ever suffered lack
Of aught till now. The meditative tone
And quaint remark conveyed a certain charm
For she who questioned him without alarm.
So when they parted on the river shore
She told him that she meant to come again,
And wistfully poor Hoodoo lingered o'er
The slender fingers of the fair Olane,
Who promised to display, the night before,
A lamplight, through a crimson window-pane,
At ten o'clock precisely, nothing more,
And she would come, unless it chanced to rain.
So Hoodoo always sat upon the rock
And watched the house till after ten o'clock.
And nearly every day they came together,
Why it happened so I cannot say ;
His manly heart had never known a tether,
Her curiosity was hard to sway ;
Trifles lighter than a downy feather,
Accumulating fast, may block the way.
Since first they met they loved, regardless whether
It led to stormy sea or sheltered bay
Of wedded life, not shorn of all its rancor,
For vessels labor, even when at anchor.
g6 SEA RHYMES
This being so, 'tis useless to describe
The oral outbreak of the mesmeric spasm,
Experience proving such a diatribe
To be a sort of moral cataplasm,
Opening pores to the chilling jibe,
Or drawing forth a festering sarcasm
From some among that deedless, caustic tribe
Ever seeking out a vacant chasm
Wherein to shed their natural impediment,
Of minds diseased, an acrid, odious sediment.
Her father saw the roses on her cheek,
Noted her lengthy absence every day ;
Enormous lunches taken seemed to speak
Of sharpened appetite or picnic gay.
Her pleasure-boat would vanish like a streak ;
He never wondered where she went astray,
Deeming it a momentary freak,
Whose cost he was contented to defray.
Their courtship prospered finely, no censorious
Or meddling tongue to mar a romance glorious.
Romantic souls, I envy their beatitude,
Their fervent love, and mutual admiration,
For now their drifting souls assumed an attitude
Defiant to the law of social station.
Proverbially deaf to warning platitude,
No woman could resist the combination ;
They quickly lost their longitude and latitude
In seas of sentiment and palpitation,
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 97
And, caring little whither they were carried,
They sneaked away one morning and were mar-
They went by different ways, she in her boat
Along the shore, to the nearest town ;
His bark canoe that day contained the coat
Worn by his father once— 'twas worn and brown,
But hid the leather suit, which might denote
A hurried flight ; her shabby veil half down,
Her dress was poor ; the parson seemed to dote,
He only saw a country girl and clown ;
And as the bridegroom had no name to tell,
He signed the book as Hoodoo Honeywell.
She hurried swiftly home, the wedding-ring
And marriage document safe out of sight ;
Her walk had not the same elastic spring,
She said she felt a little tired to-night.
Her father never noticed anything,
Excepting that her eyes were very bright,
And when her cousin, asking her to sing,
She graciously complied, he thought, "All
right ! "
Then lights were lit, and Olane went to bed,
Where Hoodoo marked a tiny spark of red.
The honeymoon was probably delicious,
That people may imagine for themselves,
Too close acquaintanceship is injudicious ;
I leave their early pairing to the elves
98 SEA RHYMES
To tattle of, for I am not malicious,
Or one who systematically delves
In sacred soil ; such conduct is pernicious,
To maiden meditation on the shelves ;
But that they had a happy time I know,
She always went there fast and came back slow.
Human logic cannot analyze
The gas of Love, or limn the mystic twinkle
In lovelit eye, or fitly eulogize
Osculent ventures on the rosebud crinkle,
Nor may it tamper in a manner wise
With angel smile, or tone of silver tinkle.
If any man would fain immortalize
Himself and theme, and teach the world a
Love well and wisely, then relate the tale,
And ten to one he'll miserably fail.
Oh, sanguine fools, who would delineate
The blissful misery of summer rain,
The dreamy flash of tints that scintillate,
In nearly ripened fields of sunny grain ;
The ethereal glint of love or hate
Which alternates in every lover's brain
Let Cupid settle, for ye meditate,
And fabricate, and recreate in vain ;
Unless the world your rhapsodies may thank
For many a profanely uttered blank.
Some weeks passed by, a time of pure bliss
And anxious caution for the wedded pair ;
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 99
For Olane's father lately seemed to miss
Her presence. Often he would oddly stare
At her perplexed, as hoping to dismiss
Unpleasant doubt, and Clarence everywhere ;
But Hoodoo calmed her fears with a kiss,
Praying his wife to come and live up there.
And so it was agreed, she had consented,
When something happened and she was prevented.
The sun that eventide hung burning low
On the horizon like a red doubloon
In rainbow waves and changing fitful throe
Of yellow radiance, which deepening soon
To solemn glory, as the dying glow
Ruddily dyed the glittering lagoon ;
Then dreamy darkness vaguely blent with woe,
Moody stars and melancholy moon ;
And Olane, by her chamber-window weeping,
Was under lock and key for safer keeping.
The lamp burnt clearly on the inlaid table,
Amid the costly foreign bric-a-brac ;
Her mind was running in a perfect Babel,
Her happiness had gone to sudden wrack ;
Some spy had told her father quite a fable
Of what was being done behind his back ;
Hoodoo knew of nothing, she unable
To warn him of the foes upon his track ;
Merley raved, and swore to have the life
Of Hoodoo, who had dared to make her wife.
100 SEA RHYMES
" Two desperadoes wait," her father said.
The tears welled up into her lovely eyes,
For Olane, living now in constant dread,
Was sadly puzzled how to signalize.
'Twas nearly ten ; the signal, white or red,
Meant no or yes ; but then Hoodoo was wise.
Green panes were also there, so she sped
And caused the flame to greenly sink or rise.
Soon Hoodoo saw the color flash and fade,
And, fearing for Olane, became afraid.
Regardless of the danger he incurred
By trespassing at night within the wall,
He crossed the lake to gain a cheering word,
And 'neath her window made an owlish call,
When suddenly a loud report was heard,
While Hoodoo felt the whistle of a ball,
And seeing figures moving up, preferred
To simulate the wounded by a fall
Among the shrubbery, but wriggled on,
So that when they arrived, the game was gone.
Clarence ran from where he thought he saw him,
And rushed into the clutches of the stranger,
Who promptly choked the figure coming for him,
To lessen odds and put him out of danger,
Although poor Clarence feebly strove to claw him
'Twas underneath the bushes, where a manger
Received the rotten garbage ; there to draw him,
Unconscious from the throttle, took the ranger,
A moment more, and with a farewell thump
He cleared the wall at one terrific jump.
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 1 01
Then, swiftly running to the waterside,
Embarked, nor ceased to powerfully urge
Across the moonlit water, but was spied,
For two more bullets gritted through the verge
And bow of his canoe, so Hoodoo tried
Upsetting it, then managed to emerge
And breathe unseen, when, drifting with the tide
To where he heard a pigeon's mournful dirge,
Dived underneath, and came up in the shade
Of Elfin Bower, unhurt and undismayed.
He climbed up in the fork, and felt a rift,
The foliage concealing him from harm,
Behind the matted creepers made a shift
To crawl therein, and found it nice and warm ;
None could see the place without a gift
Of second-sight, and though he felt a qualm,
He had to let events at present drift,
While poor Olane, aroused by wild alarm,
Had seen his flight, and being wide awake,
Now deemed him at the bottom of the lake.
By the window on the stair,
With his old head bare
And his scanty silver hair
Sat old Merley with a gun,
And a face devoid of fun,
Like a stark automaton,
102 SEA RHYMES
His doughty nephew Clarence watched from un-
derneath a bush,
While a pair of paid detectives waited ready for a
For a burglar they expected ; 'twas a snare laid to
The lover of the old man's child.
" Hark!" he muttered, " what was that?
A bat, or maybe rat,
Or the anthem of a cat
Upon the tiles ! "
It was Hoodoo softly creeping
Unto where Olane was sleeping,
In spite of all their peeping,
Merley lifted up his gun, and took a rapid aim,
Pulled the trigger with a bang and sudden gush of
Then Hoodoo fell, and Merley's face, thus having
bagged his game,
Wore a grin like an angry crocodile's.
Simultaneous with the bang,
A shriek of terror rang,
Then a window with a clang
There Olane, with raven tress
Flowing o'er her snowy dress,
Wrung her hands in sore distress,
A widowed bride.
HONEY WELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 103
Then a yell of disappointment, when the body was
A figure flying o'er the wall at one terrific bound,
A volley, and the deed was done, and Hoodoo
Being wounded — anyway he must have
They captured his canoe.
It was pierced through and through,
With a stain thereon they knew
To be blood.
And Clarence came, his nose
Battered up by heavy blows,
Plenty gore upon his clothes,
And filthy mud.
Merley complimented him for being very brave,
And said the darkness must have been in favor of
'Twas lucky that the burglar had found a ready
Saving funeral expenses, it was good.
Olane, as I have said,
Hurried quickly out of bed",
Her weary soul like lead
And she saw his rapid flight,
Through the amber mellow night,
In an agony of fright,
104 SEA RHYMES
Of a wee canoe upsetting, and the awful, sudden
Of her wounded hero, drowning in the distant
And the white face gleaming of a dead bride-
With the stars overhead soft blinking.
Then Clarence and old Merley,
After all this hurly-burly,
As the time was getting early,
And either went his way,
To slumber till the day
Arose to chase away
The old fellow dreamed that his enemy was dead.
To the nephew it seemed that the maid and he were
But Olane sadly tossed and tumbled round upon
Till the dawning of the morning light.
Then the night died away,
The light of cheery day
Overpowering the ray
Of moon or stars,
And she rose to face the morrow
With a vein of bitter sorrow,
For the loss of lover hero
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 105
The romance of ideal may possess a stubborn
But a lover warm and real, be it husband or par-
When dead, may leave a memory that bruises like
To markka tender soul with deadly scars.
Why I cannot tell,
But I know it happened well,
A queer thing befell
The clever father,
For the virgin pangs of gout
Had begirt his toes about,
Reporting back, no doubt,
Like liquid lava.
The cynical young spriglet who assisted at the scene
Came down with swelled proboscis and his optics
blue and green.
The staid old doctor said
They were both to stay in bed,
And as both were overfed,
'Twas serious, rather.
Her father growing worse,
Being free, she chose to nurse.
He who put this heavy curse
Upon her life
The detectives richly paid
By the widow they had made,
In the action of their trade,
106 SEA RHYMES
As for Clarence, tho' she knew the part he took in
How he had spied and followed her to Hoodoo's
So great was his assurance that he still continued
In the hope of gaining her to be his wife.
The first effect of violent exertion
Is usually seen in the reaction.
Hoodoo felt, tho' wet from his immersion,
Exhaustive to the system more or less,
The strain had left his vital forces lower ;
Nature rarely fails to show distress
For wasted store.
So that when Hoodoo felt the crisis past,
A languor o'er his spirit slowly stealing
Grew until he recognized, at last,
A hungry feeling.
So taking out a wallet he proceeded
To fill the aching void with something solid ;
Nature gaining what she badly needed,
His soul grew stolid,
Even revolted at a noble slice
Of sundried fat because it was not lean,
For satiated hunger has a spice
Of something mean.
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 1 07
Curling up, he slumbered, warm and cosey,
Amid the crumbling wood therein collected,
And when the sun shot up a warning rosy,
His hiding-place inspected.
The trunk was nearly hollow to the bark,
And slanted gently down into the rock ;
The lower part, of course, was very dark,
But widened with the stock.
Crumbling wood in lieu of sodden timber,
Flint and steel supplied a spark to scorch ;
Breathing fanned it to a glowing cinder
Wherewith to light a torch.
For ingenuity in compensation
From rotten wood devised a wick and handle,
The slice of fat, and, lo ! illumination,
A home-made candle.
Like most things made at home, a thing of woe,
For Benedict to ponder over sadly ;
I cannot swear that it is ever so,
But this was burning badly.
The light enabled Hoodoo's prying eyes
To pierce the gloom as far as he intended,
When he discovered, much to his surprise,
The passage was not ended.
A tree that grew to such abnormal girth
Was surely many hundred years shaping,
And at the lower end into the earth
A cavity was gaping.
I08 SEA RHYMES.
The butt had split and rotted in the rift,
Leaving a narrow cavern showing there ;
The flame also betrayed an inward drift
Of moving air.
Stepping through, he found a passage trending
Over to the right, then rising higher,
Stalagmite and sparry gravel blending
With slushy mire.
Ascending cautiously o'er tangled roots
That spread along the mould or muddy dripping,
Which now and then would coil about his boots
And set him tripping,
But passing slowly on, the road grew firmer,
Percolating water ceased to drop,
Yet echoed with a dull, metallic murmur,
Or hollow slop.
The place was bored with interlacing tunnel,
Picturesque with sphere or ragged sliver,
Worn by rush of subterranean runnel
Of ancient river,
Fossil seaweed, partly buried shell
From which the softer limestone had abraded,
Bits of coral petrified as well
The walls brocaded.
Here the roof grew gradually wider ;
White cocoons were hung in many a cranny,
Each attended by a hairy spider
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 109
Fissures gleamed with monster crystal teeth,
Sharply jutting forth at every angle,
Casting back the glimmer from beneath
In diamond spangle.
Then by and by he blundered on a cave,
All curious with hanging stalactite,
Which here and there a tiny sparkle gave
From Hoodoo's light.
The feeble light began to wave and flicker ;
It shed a ghostly glare round the den
Where once an Indian wizard brewed the liquor
To physic sick red men.
A certain sense of gloomy superstition
Clung about him like a sleepy drug,
But logic, with oracular precision,
Echoed " Humbug ! "
The grime of ages formed an arabesque,
Patterned over with design fantastic,
With hanging tassel petrified grotesque
And pennon plastic.
Spiny roof and queerly carven wall,
With gobelin tapestry incrusted o'er,
And dust lay like a funereal pall
Along the floor.
A beaten track ran in a winding strip,
Bordered by a crooked printed figure
Which might have been inflicted by a whip,
But rather bigger.
HO SEA RHYMES
A trail whose course the level floor pursuing,
Rising as it reached the outer side,
Ending in a fissure choked with ruin
Of outlet wide.
Through crevices the daylight faintly filtered,
And here a vine had shot a weakly spray,
Branching yellowly and nearly wilted
From lack of sunny ray.
A beaten track, as one might often trundle
A bucket from the outer wall and back,
Circling round a shapeless roll or bundle
Like a sack.
It lay back in a corner of the cave
Near a heap of miscellaneous lumber,
Emitting odors matched by nothing save
A crushed cucumber.
Hoodoo quietly drew away the stuff
And made a passage to the outer shelf,
But stayed inside — the prospect was too rough
To show himself.
Tho' waving fern and clustered vine were growing
About the edge, it was a doubtful case —
The ledge on Castle Rock was plainly showing
From Merley's place.
Then gradually poured a flood of light
And bathed the sepulchre in liquid glory,
Dissipating many years of night,
But not their story.
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE III
The dreary sense of peril seemed to go,
Fading like the odor of a drug,
Logic whispered, " There, I told you so !
Humbug ! "
In streamed the daylight, falling fair and full
Across the figure whence the reek exuded,
From where a sadly battered human skull
The teeth had fallen from the crumbling thing,
Among the dust which lay in ridgy swirls,
And mingled oddly with a broken string
Of yellow pearls.
The tiny bones which form the hand or foot,
Dust-corroded, on the floor rolled,
Hustled here and there in the soot
Of years untold.
The brittle robe, tho' badly desiccated,
Clove unto the frame and served to hide it ;
Not the slightest tremor indicated
What lay inside it.
Staff in hand, our pertinacious rover,
Moved instinctively by vague distrust,
Capsized the skeleton and rolled it over
Among the dust.
Straightway upreared a horrible bouquet
Of vibrant flattened heads all scaly shining,
Sparkling eyes and forky tongues at play
And stalky bodies twining,
112 SEA RHYMES
Each hissing serpent busy agitating
The warning music of a horny rattle,
And one enormous fellow meditating
The fragile shelter of their snaky youth
Upset, no wonder they should execrate him,
Or try and nail him with the hollow tooth,
To salivate him.
Darting viciously and quickly coiling,
Rage but rendering them more repulsive,
A pretty queer kettle set a-boiling
By act impulsive.
His trusty staff went swinging through the air,
Feet an agile devil's hornpipe dancing,
Perspiration dripping from his hair
From sudden prancing ;
The consequences of a single miss,
Making life exceedingly unstable;
The den of forty thieves compared to this
A mere fable.
An odd one wriggled out upon the rocks,
Others bravely sought to hold their own,
But dying by the dint of heavy knocks,
Soon Hoodoo was alone.
Then curiosity advanced a claim,
The rush of speculation running rife
On who the dead might be, and what his name
And bygone life.
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 113
The place was dry and finely ventilated ;
Reasons for the rattlers are various ;
One often hears of serpents congregated ;
They are gregarious.
A brief examination would suffice
To grant a key to fit the mystery,
And bare a record of ingenious vice,
The wizard's history.
On grimy shelves around the gruesome vault
Lay many a precious relic of the past,
Murderous-looking weapons of assault
Phials of rudely fashioned earthenware,
In which the doubtful medicine had dried,
Arrow-heads and gems unique and rare,
Lay side by side.
Wampum from the far Pacific Sea,
Beaten plates of yellow virgin gold,
Rotten fabrics, priceless once, maybe,
Lay fold on fold.
Human skulls with long, discolored teeth,
Mummied snakes and lizards were hob-nobbing,
Which time had decked with many a dusty wreath
Idols reached and leered in vacant pomp,
With limbs misshapen, who appeared to strive
To lure the corpse into some evil romp,
As when alive.
114 SEA RHYMES
Earthen lamps in every little niche
Spoke a somewhat cultivated ease,
From which protruded yet the rusty wick,
Now innocent of grease.
A hollowed rock containing leafy mould,
Bloated'vases, ancient crockery,
Tomahawks from off the handles rolled,
As if in mockery.
Here long ago a mighty wizard dwelt,
Who wielded " Humbug " with a steady hand*
Until his potent influence was felt
Throughout the land,
From herbs distilling many a subtle draught,
Cooling salve or some infernal lotion,
Ere mighty spirits fashioned wings to waft
The white wolves o'er the ocean.
Here repaired the Indian canoe,
The rugged warrior, or simple maiden,
To hear the oracle of Manitou,
With sacrifices laden,
And laid ashore 'neath the tree of terror,
Woful chanting, rhythmic supplication,
Many a fearful tale of savage error
And solemn invocation.
An earthen vessel full of glowing coke,
Moistened moss and spices added to it,
Obscured Castle Rock with odorous smoke
Outpouring through it.
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 115
Humbug, playing an audacious role,
Imposes on a crude imagination ;
It finds a home in many an honest soul
A wave of chili presentiment goes stealing
O'er those who view the necromantic vision ;
The aromatic vapor fades, revealing
The great magician.
Great and small, the mighty or the weak,
Bow before the fearful apparition
In abject horror, while he deigned to speak
The mystical decision.
A tube or packet falling in the lake,
Conveying physic, as he gave instruction,
Of where, or when, and how they were to take,
Or possible destruction.
They frantically paddle out of sight,
The rocks resounding with a peal of thunder, —
A copper gong lay handy there to smite,
He got the plunder,
And maybe got a blessing from a chief
Whose barren squaw had ta'en a soporific
Beneath the tree, and grown to their relief
Humbug plays on earth no humble role,
Success arises by its operation ;
Its fountain-head is every greedy soul
Il6 SEA RHYMES
Hoodoo, with a much-astonished face,
Yet hailed the venture as a happy hit ;
It answered every purpose of the case,
In all ways fit —
Rude and rugged to the last degree,
Solitary as an eagle's nest,
A place wherein the fair Olane and he
Could safely rest.
The labor of a day eradicated
The musty wreck of foul dilapidation ;
When clean, the cave already indicated
An air of habitation.
He cut a clearing in the vines and fern
Around the fissure, which afforded light ;
Yet prying eyes that way might safely turn —
'Twas out of sight.
The hollowed rock, when full of springy reed
And spread with fleecy furs, made up a bed,
Arms lay on a ledge, in case of need,
Near by the head.
For late that night he swam around the bluff,
And with a spare canoe, concealed before,
Had brought a miscellaneous lot of stuff
And, lowering a rope from off the fork,
Had hauled it up and carried to the grotto
With silent speed, for action, rarely talk,
Was Hoodoo's motto.
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE WJ
Finding many ornaments intact,
He decorated as his fancy ran ;
Next evening found the grot, in point of fact,
Quite spick and span.
A mat of bark kept in the mellow beams,
Lent by earthen lamps secured aloft,
Backward cast by scintillating gleams,
Or sparkle soft.
Ancient battle-axes hung around,
Curious vases stood about the floor,
Arrow-heads and knives of flint were found
By the score.
The idols still retained their former pride,
But that he venerated does not follow ;
He kept his father's cherished scalps inside,
They being hollow.
And every time the outlaw entered here
Twas like the advent of a jolly gnome ;
Every shadow seemed to disappear,
For it was home.
The idols seemed to wear a friendly grin,
And tried to swell with silent inward laughter,
As if to murmur, " Lots of fun, come in,
And more after."
E'en the venerable sculptured owl
Winked a carven eye in stony joy,
And strove to hoot, with an approving scowl,
" Good boy ! "
Il8 SEA RHYMES
A battered skull pathetically flung
A hollow smile of welcome from its lair,
Inferring silently, " I once was young.
Ah, I've been there ! "
Not these alone, but everything beside
Appeared to wear a jovial expression —
Perhaps a fancy, nurtured by the pride
Of full possession —
And when 'twas dinner-time, or winds were chill,
A crock of burning charcoal in the room,
Wedged into a crevice of the hill,
Which carried off the fume.
Many a juicy steak was here prepared.
The vapor had a value, too, as well ;
Once or twice a clown was badly scared
By an odd smell,
And wildly fled, for fear some evil ghoul
Had raised this tempting odor as a lure
To draw a Christian soul to orgies foul —
Infernal overture —
So that a woodland walk which used to run
O'er Castle Rock at once became deserted ;
There goblins gathered, darksome deeds were done,
It was asserted.
A ghastly legend circulated round
Of ghostly figures who at midnight sauntered —
An ebon shade with Hoodoo, lately drowned ;
The place was haunted.
HONEYVVELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 119
So here he might have lived and later died,
As did the former tenant long before him,
A victim unto Merley's iron pride,
Had fate passed o'er him.
Who lives that can avoid those unseen hands
Which shape the destinies of every age?
How they dealt with Merley now demands
Returning to the mansion where old Merley lay in
We find him well attended by his daughter, fair
Who, sad and paler than her wont, yet scorning to
Mechanically moved about the place.
Not a syllable escaped her lip anent the brutal
By which the cold conspirators had slain a better
But her eyes were losing lustre and her cheek was
And they daily marked a change upon her
At night, when she retired, she would sit and sadly
The waters where the tragedy took place.
120 SEA RHYMES
One starlight night, a fortnight after Merley laid
She was seated at the casement in a sombre-colored
When she heard a little gravel on the window
Like the signal of a sly associate ;
And opening the casement, in the garden down be-
She beheld a dusky outline which she somehow
seemed to know ;
But a heavy step approaching, as if fearing it a foe
She dimly saw the form evaporate,
But heard a stealthy footfall on the arbor portico,
Where the starry twinkle did not penetrate.
Then Clarence turned the corner — Olane knew him
in the dark,
His identity established by a tiny moving spark
From a big cigar he usually carried, as a mark
Of extravagantly cultivated ease —
Who, pausing opposite, assumed a sentimental
Then murmured half aloud, " She sleeps! Incom-
Would that I were thy stalk ! " and blew his
Which continued most unpleasantly obese,
Also unpoetic. So relapsing into prose
He muttered, "And no other legatees."
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 121
Then, sighing, went along the walk, resuming his
Sat clown upon the arbor- step, producing a
And was tuning up the instrument with unmelodi-
When he found his choice regalia was out ;
He therefore struck a lucifer, which threw a light
Revealing to Olane the one for whom her spirit
In his hand a knotty bludgeon, not improbably des-
To silence any noisy foe about.
She saw him through a corner of the netted window-
And fancied he was grown a little stout.
Clarence threw away the match and puffed in great
While he thrummed a lame fandango on the
After waking up the servants, he consideratelv
And Hoodoo saw him safely out of sight.
Then he came beneath the window, and with
guarded whisper, she
Convinced her much-bewildered brain that it was
And the two arranged a rendezvous beneath the
122 SEA RHYMES
By Elfin Bower on the morrow night.
He promising to meet her there, whenever he
The old familiar glimmer of the signal light.
Little did she sleep that night, her mind was in a
And all next day she moved and spoke as when she
was a girl.
Clarence stared, and gave his weak mustache a
To see the roses gather on her cheek.
That night she stole out unobserved, and safely
And with Hoodoo had a hugging match, to com-
pensate a loss
Not worthy of description, people do not care a
For hysterical affection, so to speak ;
The history of a day would yield examples by the
In odd divorce, or suicidal freak.
He hid the boat along the bank in case Olane were
Threw a rope around a limb, the end about her
Both pulling on the other end, without unseemly
She was hoisted to the hollow in the trunk ;
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 1 23
He showed her through the passage, now 'twas
easy to traverse,
The roots were smoothly buried, and the spring,
which ran perverse,
Dripping from the roof before, now went to reim-
An earthen pitcher, broad and deep, within the
Led thereto by strips of bark ; the water was no
But perhaps a little cooler than the village people
When she entered Hoodoo's cavern, one may judge
of her surprise,
Such a fairy transformation scene as lay before her
Each article of ancient ware a veritable prize,
To Olane, who proceeded to inspect.
The pearls and rarer wampum were unusually
And a million facets gleaming like the gems upon
The grotto glittered brightly like Aladdin's jewel
From the crystals o'er the surface richly
Hoodoo there as Harlequin and she as Colum-
With a singularly brilliant effect.
124 SEA RHYMES
How they passed the time away is difficult to guess,
But one ma)' judge it to have been in comfort more
As 'twas midnight ere they parted, in a state of
No bachelor is able to describe ;
And Olane gliding onward in her boat across the
Resembled more a water nymph than Merley's only
If anyone had seen her there, 'tis what they would
have thought her,
For the rustics are a superstitious tribe.
She entered by the balcony ; experience had taught
That a servant knows the value of a bribe.
After this they grew more daring, and had both
been seen together,
By a person who had heard about the hunter clad
And the negro, both of whom were drowned ; but
failed to notice whether
The smaller hooded figure was a male.
He scuttled to his family, forever after steer-
From the patch of land by Castle rocks, a lovely
Level as a shaven lawn, where spirits were appear-
HONEY WELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 125
Who had tragically left this earthly vale.
The story reached the village, which was infinitely
For the gossips dearly love a grisly tale.
Weeks had passed away, yet Merley suffered from
the gout ;
The doctor said he probably would never get about,
The disease had found the nursery from where it
Like a tired prodigal returning home ;
When gout attacks the stomach, like the prodigal
Or only leaves its quarters for a few uncertain days,
And presently the little home has vanished from
The prodigal will nevermore roam.
Old Merley made his testament, preparing, logic
To become incorporated with the loam.
The property was left in trust for Clarence, to com-
Until Olane saw convenient to render him her
In the meantime she was granted board and lodg-
Which in case of misalliance, was to cease ;
And the property was deeded to a charitable
126 SEA RHYMES
For providing pauper gentlefolks with tea and dairy
And to building a cathedral — even Merley had a
Of procuring his salvation on a lease.
If the plan concerning Clarence and Olane should
kick the beam,
He bequeathed them each a quarter dollar piece.
He told his hopeful nephew of the way affairs were
So Clarence woke up suddenly, and saw he must
His powers of fascination were unequal to sub-
The spirit of the lady he desired ;
But growing fairly desperate, he tremulously
Or surely would have done, but that his utterance
was stopped ;
Olane quietly told him that the theme were better
And leaving him, indignantly retired ;
But he took a brandy cocktail, and, his resolution
Intruded in her chamber, passion fired.
She was putting on a hooded cloak, the lamp was
on the sill,
A faint red light was visible from lake and
gloomy hill ;
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 12J
But when Clarence came she listened to his story
of the will,
Then contemptuously bade him to be gone ;
But he acted so unpleasantly, at least, so rumor
That Olane seized the lamp and hit the villain o'er
It bursting on the floor and setting fire to the
When Clarence, shorn of all his fanfaron,
Had sneaked away upstairs, while Olane had
So the fire in the chamber crackled on.
Hoodoo met his wife, and as he listened to her
The anger settled in his heart, and left his features
No evil word escaped his tongue, he knew not
how to rail,
But he let her climb the entrance to the cave ;
Deliberately whetted up a lengthy hunting-knife,
And started over to the house, with murder run-
In his temper, he had hidden, when they hunted
for his life,
Now he would deal according as they gave ;
But a glare about the mansion showed a scene of
From Olane's window leapt a fiery wave.
128 SEA RHYMES
Smoke was curling everywhere, along the man-
And the servants did but little in the place, ex-
cept to hunt
For valuable trifles. Merley's manner being blunt,
They were working for their wages, not for
His room was on the second floor, but no one
seemed to fret
As to whether he was roasting, it was easy to for-
Clarence usually slept a story higher yet.
The fire now was taking hold above,
And the flames were roaring fierce with innumer-
While the zephyrs gave the tragedy a shove.
Hoodoo passed the villagers and people gathered
Who viewed his resurrection with a horror-stricken
He made no explanation, there was little time to
The balcony he mounted at a bound,
Knowing how the passage ran, to get to Merley's
Blindly rushed along to where the door dimly
Brought the old man groaning through the suf-
HONEY WELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE 1 29
Then inquired if the nephew were around.
Smoke was belching everywhere in black and fiery
Through the windows from the roof unto the
All the population of the village stood and viewed,
Delighted with the show on domain heretofore
But shrank away from Hoodoo with a quiet solici-
Whispering together of the ghost —
Of the disembodied negro in the sable flowing
Hoodoo's face distorted by a diabolic frown,
A loaded pistol ready cock't, to shoot the nephew
But destiny annulled his savage boast,
His action saving Merley, even, brought him no re-
People said, 'twas not their time to roast.
So no one answered, nobody had anything to tell,
And Hoodoo watched the fire in the breezes
When from a lofty chimney-pot there came an
And all beheld emerge a sooty figure ;
Who sitting on the top, his feet adangle in the
With mad gesticulation beat a horrible tattoo,
130 SEA RHYMES
Laughed, and snapped, and jibbered like a crazy
The people cried — the Spirit of the nigger :
And Hoodoo knowing Clarence, who had barely
Raving mad with terror, eased the trigger.
A crackle and a sputter from the heart of crimson
Then together inward falling, both the roof and
An upward rush of fiery sparks, and fragments of
the frame ;
A sizzle, and a groaning from the mob.
Hoodoo went to Merley, who was breathing out
Who apologized for injuries committed in the past,
And gave a dying blessing, lor his breath was ebb-
When Olane, who was there, began to sob.
'Twas a most affecting scene, but as a rigid para-
I consider I am over with the job.
Merley made no other will ; his daughter did not
The other precious document was burned to ashes
And Hoodoo, as her husband, thus became the legal
The backbone of their miseries was gone :
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE I3T
And how he had a suit of clothes, by Olane's
And how he thought himself a most confounded
And how he tried to swear at the somewhat
Sensation of a linen collar — on,
Is recorded in the chronicles of utter gibberish.
It may be here — may be this is one.
Hoodoo and Olane were blest, in spite of all their
And a crowd of ankle-biters, more than one of
whom were twins,
But he — they never civilized, he wore mocassins,
And rambled with his rifle through the wood :
The second generation are a race of sturdy men,
And their daughters are so fair as to paralyze my
Quality and quantity, they number nine or ten,
And as far as I can learn are brave and good.
The sun is brightly shining on their fortunes now
Tho' they never boast of pedigree or blood.
But what they do is better for humanity at large ;
They treat their working people as a providential
Nor spend their time and money on a gaudy pleas-
Or gaming with a parasitic crew ;
132 SEA RHYMES
They never reared buildings to commemorate their
Their employees have never struck, to their eternal
Decent profits hardly bear the philanthropic game,
Which is played to great perfection by a screw.
And there I will leave them, to be burdened with
If this parting panegyric be untrue.
The hollow tree and cavern I discovered and ex-
I found it richly furnished, and luxuriously stored
With every convenience ; and now they can afford
To use it as a rustic shooting-box ;
And a member of the family, surprising me inside,
Accepted my apologies, and kindly gratified,
My thirst for information of the hunter and his
And how they had to hide in Castle Rocks ;
And to this day they still conduct the chosen few
To picnic in this hollow paradox.
They built another mansion on the slope between
Where a crystal streamlet bubbles, and the song-
bird gayly trills,
And the forest grandly rises, here the pigeon fondly
While the squirrels frolic through the leafy glade ;
HONEYWELLS. A RHYMER'S TALE I 33
A flowery meadow greenly rolling downward to
Dotted o'er with sleeky kine, and frisky lambs who
Their baby heads and aspen tails, at sheep, who
In woolly vacant reverie are strayed ;
And water-fowl jerk lamely through the reeds as
The rubbish where a cunning nest is made.
The village droning onward in the distance as of
But a deeper dulness dawning, for old Brown is
now no more,
And he lies in consecrated ground with grasses
To the chiming of the drowsy chapel bells,
Where many souls are summoned, and a few are
gained, I hope,
On placid Sunday morn or eve, when rustic sinners
Toward a purer state of things with prayer or
According as the moral feeling dwells ;
And further curiosity will find an ample scope,
In a visit to the land of Honeywells.
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA.
Remotely known, on the English coast,
Where the land lies low and level,
Dwells a rustic folk, whose leading toast
In the not infrequent revel,
Is the river that flows from the sea inland,
Or ebbs as the ocean tides command,
Till a big ship floats, or the urchins stand,
In the trail of a deep sea devil,
By a fable of ye olden time.
Tradition told of a mammoth snake,
Of an instinct fierce and gory,
Which wallowed a way through the marshy brake,
According to their story.
And here it basked in the sunny heat
For dinner devouring a maiden sweet,
Till a bold knight slew it ; the marvellous feat
Obscured his name with glory,
From the battle of ye olden time.
The name of the village is little account,
For it slipped my recollection ;
But the people yet have a fair amount
Of my reverent affection ;
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 35
Sons or daughters to the sons of the sea,
Simple and honest as they well can be
In the land of the tidal river Lea,
As I choose to name that section,
For the sake of ye olden time.
Years ago to the sleepy port,
Came a ship all worn and battered,
With a rollicking crew of a reckless sort,
Her canvas torn and tattered ;
The bulwarks gone, where the wild wave crashed,
And a howling tempest raving lashed,
When a driving spray o'er the sailors dashed,
Till their locks with brine grew matted
Like the beards of ye olden time.
She had braved the breakers along the shore,
To the mouth of the tidal river ;
'Twas a Yankee ship with wealth galore
In the hands of the careless giver,
And the quiet little village rang ere long
To the deep-sea shandy, or roving song,
Rolling an echo, bold and strong,
To the maiden ears aquiver
With the glamour of the olden time.
The tars drank deep of the rarest brew,
Till the light came faintly dawning ;
They fought like furies, but fairly too,
In the wee small hours of the morning,
Yet dusk in the evening found them true
136 SEA RHYMES
To the faith of the moonlight rendezvous,
Mid the shadowy lanes and the falling dew,
In the teeth of the gray beards' warning,
As it happened in ye olden time.
Many a maiden fair and young,
Merry with a playful passion,
Their guileless souls so finely strung
In the key of the old-time fashion,
Which tells of the lover so bold and true,
Who sails away on the briny blue
With never a lady among the crew,
And a temperate scale of ration,
Like a saint of ye olden time.
In dove-like pairs they wandered forth,
Through lanes they roved securely,
They spread to the eastward, west, and north,
Their faces set demurely ;
On the south lav the river, and the Yankee ship,
Whence two by two would the jack tars slip,
And away to the wandering maidens skip,
Who were quite unawaring, surely,
In the humor of ye olden time.
There Pippin of the foretop, short and stout,
Muscular, hard, and hairy,
Was taken aback when he wandered out
By a sweet-faced maid named Mary ;
Tubs of the forecastle swore by Jane,
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA. 1 37
Chips and a Lilly agreed in the grain,
And Grace found Parsons in mental pain,
While the rhymer of the ship saw a fairy
As fair as in ye olden time.
'Twas the rhyming tar, with a beardless chin,
And the theories glibly spoken,
Of the endless trouble he tumbled in,
And a short pug nose twice broken ;
The bandied limbs, and the tousled hair,
Who sang of the mermaids wondrous fair,
While the crew chimed in with a chorus rare,
And he led them by that token,
Like a troop of ye olden time.
By a gray old church, with the big square tower,
Where bells rung sweet and sadly,
By the quaint old inn where the fragrant flower
Made the lovelorn heart ache badly ;
The ruined old abbey where the ivy climbs,
In the dells, where the blackbird trills at times,
Were fond hearts echoing the mystic chimes,
Which made wise men do madly,
As was ever in ye olden time.
When the clock in the tower boomed half-past
With a strain of moral rancor,
Then the maidens murmured adieu to the men,
Who glowered a hopeless canker,
I38 SEA RHYMES
They pleaded vainly, the maid soon gone,
And a light in her chamber window shone,
Drifting disconsolate, one by one
They gathered at the sign of the Anchor,
A tavern of ye olden time.
A fisherman's daughter can deftly row
The skiff where the wavelet shimmers,
Her voice makes music to the old banjo
Where the moon, reflected, glimmers,
Her eyes are luminous with subtle light,
As his voice floats musical love through the night,
And the chords magnetically throb with delight,
For the soul of the rhymer simmers
With a fervor of ye olden time.
But the fair young dove flies home to roost,
At the sound of the half-hour booming,
The eloquent tongue of the lover unloosed
Is tied by a futile fuming ;
For the boat scrapes harshly along the shore,
One stolen kiss, and the dream is o'er,
And she disappears, to be seen no more,
Till the morrow in the twilight glooming,
Like a vision of ye olden time.
Mournfully up by the stone bridge wall,
With the banjo slung right handy,
He meets with his shipmates, short and tall,
But all their legs look bandy.
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 39
Then a generous bout with the nut-brown purl,
The tars in turn toast the Unseen Girl,
Then march where the river's eddyings whirl,
Refraining the deep sea shandy,
In the manner of ye olden time.
The banjo twangs with a sounding pank
As the leading voice goes pealing,
Down a silent street, to the river bank,
Where a misty veil is stealing ;
And an echo floats it back again,
Like a distant hail from the briny main ;
The tars join in with a wierd refrain,
And a hurricane of feeling,
In a tune of ye olden time.
Sing roving far o'er the briny water,
Aye, ho, boys, roll and go,
None so fair as a sailor's daughter
Carry me along to my own true love ;
Her eyes are a light for the homeward bounder,
A fair breeze travelling lingers round her
Follow, my lads, till the winds have found her,
Ransome, sweetheart, ransome me.
There's storm in the distance fiercely growling,
Aye, ho, boys, roll and go ;
But I hear her sigh thro' the tempest howling
Carry me along to my own true love,
140 SEA RHYMES
The waves may roar, and the thunders rumble
None but she may find me humble,
Down in her lap my gold shall tumble,
Ransome, sweetheart, ransome me.
For a buzzing breeze in the ratlines moaning,
Aye, ho, boys, roll and go ;
A bubbling wake, and the timbers groaning,
Carry me along to my own true love,
Bellow in the sail, o'er the old tub skating,
Rattle in the rigging and clatter on the grating,
Hurry me along to a fair maid waiting,
Ransome, sweetheart, ransome me.
Swift with the tide in the channel rushing,
Aye, ho, boys, roll and go,
Sheet set taut with a fair wind pushing,
Carry me along to my own true love ;
High in the window a faint light twinkles,
A chorus bold, as the banjo tinkles,
Merry little maiden, smooth these wrinkles,
Ransome, sweetheart, ransome me.
And as the band went trolling down the road,
At certain intervals a gentle flutter,
Behind the diamond panes and curtain showed,
While some one's voice betrayed an eager stutter,
The maiden, roused by the strain she hears,
Has two bright eyes suffused with tears,
Her soft young soul is beset with fears,
Too vague for the tongue to utter,
Like a seeress of ye olden time.
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA Hi
The dried old gaffers totter out of beds,
With click and creak of windows open swinging ;
Grannies popping out their nightcapt heads,
Would squawk a shaky quaver to the singing ;
Doddering old sailors, waiting quietly for the grave,
Their brawny sons now absent on the bosom of the
Bellow feebly in the shandy while their grizzled
Their memory pathetically winging
To the frolic of ye olden time.
The watchmen list to the billowy sound
They join in the odd procession,
And join when the sweet refrain comes round
For they sing with great expression ;
Their stern looks gradually grow less grim,
The melody makes their eyes grow dim,
But they swell the chorus with a fanatic vim,
Like sinners at confession,
To a friar of ye olden time.
The lord of the manor passes by
But never a hat was lifted,
He scowls on them with lowering eye,
For a tale has widely drifted
Of the woman who lives in the ivied cot
Her fair fame smirched with a lifelong blot;
But the lord of the manor heeds her not,
Her shame may never be lifted,
Which befell her in ye olden time.
142 SEA RHYMES
No happier maiden lived, one day,
In the village of the shining water,
Than the bonny dark-eyed laughing fay
Who was known as the fisherman's daughter
Years gone by, for the seasons go,
As the tidal waters ebb and flow.
Now her raven locks in the breezes blow,
And a wisdom time has taught her
By the trouble of ye olden time.
Her face is fair, and her eyes shine bright,
Her mellow voice rings sweetly,
Her step is springing yet, and light,
And her garments clinging neat 1 v.
She lives alone, with a daughter fair
Of the same soft eyes, and silky hair,
And, friend or foe, there are none may share,
In the secret kept discreetly.
Of the doings of ye olden time.
Her father sails his fishing smack
To the banks of the briny ocean ;
He brings her curious trifles back,
But the child has a fancied notion,
That his eyes grow dark as he scans her face,
For the well-known traits of a reckless race,
Then the harsh lines soften to her winsome grace,
And a kindlier emotion,
Which is not of ye olden time.
The mother takes her along to church,
Each peaceful Sunday morning.
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 43
And of late the rhyming tar would lurch,
To sit in the background yawning ;
Then home to her door he beguiled their way,
With the fun that a sailor alone can say,
And she finds it awkward to say him nay,
In the light of the new love dawning
From the sorrows of ye olden time.
Yet she gives him to know she has once been wed,
Tho' the proof thereof is missing,
That she waits till her scampish spouse be dead,
Her voice with hatred hissing.
And he seeks to discover the rascal's name,
That his blood may cleanse her life from shame,
But she held her peace, so that all which came,
From the theme was an ardent kissing
In defiance of ye olden time.
In the smithy by the landing lived a gray-
beard hale and hearty,
His rosy face resembling some ancient figure-
He was dignified in bearing, and of no uncertain
Like the famous Bonaparte, who by wit and wis-
He was deft as a mechanic, with the lore of his
144 SEA A' II YATES
By the mystery vulcanic, he a cosey living made,
His head was long- and level, and his soul was not
As he labored in the smithy by the tidal river
He was favored by the pastor of the church so
gray and ancient,
Where the tombstones gleam out whitely from
amid the rustling trees ;
And his forge sent out a clamor as he welded calm
With the sparkles flying swiftly and the bellows'
The fisherman returning with a scaly silvern spoil,
Marked the ruddy flare burning and tumultous
And was fain to rest his muscles after weary hours
In the smithy of the village by the tidal river
People called him Benny Rowland, from a liking
that they bore him ;
Of manner bright and genial, to everyone alike.
They who settled there before him, said he wan-
dered from the lowland,
When his homestead was demolished by the
bursting of a dyke.
A baby girl of tender years, which tenderly he
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 45
Was all he had, the mother had been drowned
where'er she tarried,
And was later found and buried by the chapel
where they married,
E'er they settled in the lowland of the tidal river
He had prospered in his calling by a sturdy perse-
And the crippled Yankee vessel brought him
gear to repair,
By a youth of good appearance, when the shades
of night were falling,
Who could tell a tragic story how the vessel
He was bo'sun of the damaged craft, a boon com-
And in their cot enjoyed a draught of strong Oc-
So it fell that Marie Rowland and the handsome
Well acquainted in the village by the tidal river
She had grown to be a beauty in their homely little
As a violet might blossom by some rugged bowl-
And he heard her father telling of the maiden's
146 SEA RHYMES
With a curious conviction that she was his fu-
From her hand a fervid feeling set his inner soul
Their furtive glances stealing seemed to magically
On his ear her voice with melody magnetic seemed
While the maiden when he answered softly
. In the cottage of the village by the tidal river
And thereafter in the gloaming by the footpath
o'er the moor,
Stood a sunburnt sailor watching for the lovely
Where the moonlight calmly pours while the
stricken ones are roaming,
The presence of each other sanctifying time and
Of the world they little wondered in their strange
Even destiny had blundered in the vessel's desti-
And brought them to a spot replete with every
That Nature can afford the human race,
In that solitary village by the tidal river
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 47
Benny Rowland, unsuspecting of the way affairs
Saw the happy pair roving, with a calm un-
Far adown the river rowing ; and he lent without
Their tiny boat, whose anchor chain was thick
with idle rust ;
For his lordship of the manor once had met a chill
When the maiden had been pestered by his ogling
And appealed to Benny Rowland, who had spoken
To the scion of an ancient upper crust,
Whilom rulers of the village by the tidal river
A libertine with power, in the shape of lands and
A God upon a bicycle his loftiest ideal ;
Of some bucolic cleverness, impertinently funny,
And a dignity of bearing, either gross or fune-
A magistrate, by virtue of his standing in the shire,
But secretly a gambler, a drunkard, also liar ;
Ambitious as old Satan with libidinous desire,
And he cast a look of envy on the lovers' true
As they wandered in the meadows by the tidal
148 SEA RHYMES
And in spite of their traditions there were very few
For his record as a gentleman was ominously
In their hearts a many hated, and the balance
vaguely feared him,
While his tenants all reported him a veritable
When the daughter of the fisherman had wandered
With her baby girl o'crshadowed by a miserable
She kept her story hidden in her now enlightened
Lest her fond old father make a fatal mar!:,
On the villain of the village by the tidal river
But she cursed him when she met him, with the
fervor of a prophet,
And he listened as he hurried from the injured
Saying, 'ere lie went to Tophet, that the Lord might
not forget him,
But inflict a retribution in the righteousness of
And a chill foreboding shiver sent a tremor thro !
While deeming weakling innocence a fascinating
He rarely felt compunction for the misery or shame
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 49
Of his victim in the hopeless aftermath —
But the vengeance of the elders of the tidal
river Lea !
The Yankee ship was lying on the bank across the
And the carpenters had torn away the bo'sun's
private bunk ;
The sailors making merry made the situation try-
Occasionally some of them would get extremely
So the bo'sun, rather tired of the gay nocturnal
Which is not to be desired after one has tumbled
With a dreamy recollection of the fair transparent
Of a saintly vision, beaming on a monk,
Hired a chamber at the Anchor by the tidal
A rambling old ruin, once a pleasant country villa,
Massy walls and windows, with the lattice dia-
An enormous weeping-willow o'er the door one en-
tered through in,
And a mossy thatch by many years of weather
But the landlord was so jolly, and so corpulent to
150 SEA RHYMES
The bare idea was folly that the quarters wouldn't
The inn for some four hundred years had held a
Tho' it may have leaked a trifle when it rained
On the houses of the village by the tidal river
Inside a sandy flooring showed an excavated hollow,
Worn by generations of the hobnailed British
Which was excellent to follow for the visitor ex-
To the cosiest old parlor that a traveller ever
From a huge cavernous chimney came a warm and
On the oaken wainscot firmly flanked by weighty
bench or chair,
Deep corroded by the ravages that time had eaten
The ceiling raftered ponderously too,
As was common in the village by the tidal
Here the shadows nod and flicker where the rug-
ged seamen gather,
Where the pudding-featured pot-boy passed the
potent home-brew'd ale,
With a crown of creamy lather, and they sip the
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 5 1
From the pewter, as a knotty -faced old sailor tells
In a dialect besprinkled with the phrasing of the
And a leathern forehead wrinkled by the strain of
With a horny finger lifted as they listen earnestly,
Of the time that he was shipwrecked in a gale,
Long remembered in the village by the tidal
Here the clock whereon a rooster stood, defiantly
As depicted by the artist, to victoriously crow ;
Ill-natured rumor said he was an emblem of the
The only " tick " available was swinging to and
Tho' his smile was sweet as honey, it was tacitly
That a dearth of ready money was the only sin he
His twinkling little vision was too keen to be de-
A winding-up made clock and business go,
In the cosey little parlor by the tidal river Lea.
The landlord's pretty daughter, lightly here and
On the business of the sanctum where the higher
152 SEA RHYMES
Which is surely very fitting, for the sailor is a
Where a merchant gravely listens with a self-
Jane had watched the bo'sun with an absent-minded
Who saw that her complexion was unusually
Then she fell a willing victim to sensations sweet
When he kissed her, which of course he had not
In the tavern of the village by the tidal river
But the bo'sun's purse was weighty, and the host
displayed a chamber
Of ghastly air, but many rare old pictures on the
Where a pretty girl was smiling on a veteran of
Who was scowling at the bo'sun with the bitter-
ness of gall ;
A warrior with ringlets aimed a dire destructive
At a convict clad in singlets of unutterable drab,
Who had just fired off a blunderbuss and waited
for the stab
From a rapier, which never seemed to fall,
In the picture of the chamber by the tidal river
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 53
Here Apollyon scared a pedler, who with apoplectic
Rubbed his hands in feeble protest at the mon-
ster's merry grin,
Indicating with precision, that the demon was a
And whatever his pretension it was evidently
Whene'er the bo'sun went to bed, he scanned this
work of art,
But the morning had not altered the position of the
The speculation might have racked a nervous per-
As to whether he — the pedler — saved his skin ;
But the bo'sun slumbered soundly by the tidal
On the quaking bog of feathers, in the carven mam-
With a canopy suspended overhead, of massive
And he promptly glided off into a dream of forty
Round a lamb with Marie's features, who was
telling them a joke ;
Then a serpent gliding stealthily had poised a
When a ram with long gray whiskers struck the
scaly head a bang,
154 SEA RHYMES
Which sounded as a hammer on the smithy anvil
And the whole affair vanished as he woke,
In the chamber of the Anchor by the tidal river
On the chamber threshold waiting, with his hand
upon the handle,
Stood the landlord of the Anchor with an anx-
ious puckered brow
Holding up a flaring candle, who began by blandly
That his hostelry was crowded to the fullest limit
The yearly celebration of the customary fair
Increased the population till they had no room to
And the lord of all the manor waited on the landing
Belated in the village of the tidal river Lea.
'Twas early in the morning and the rain was wildly
The manor lay some distance by a dark and
Its people soundly snoring, barred and bolted till
And in praise of early rising, then a chanticleer
His lordship wished to share his bed, the largest in
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA I 55
The bo'sun ignorantly said he understood the case,
Was delighted to oblige him, with a hospitable
In the chamber of the tavern by the tidal river
And his lordship waxing jolly at the turn it gave
Made an ample explanation of the circumstances
Are a fertile source of pairs, just a little youthful
And dilated' on the beauties of a game at baccarat.
The bo'sun did not care, so returned the fair ad-
By a promise to be there and investigate the
At eleven on the morrow night, when fashionable
In society are opened, few are earlier than that,
Not counting in the village by the tidal river
On the morrow, after Marie from their try sting
He repaired to his appointment at the hour of
Feeling very tender-hearted, for to-night his blush-
Had decided she would marry him to crystallize
156 SEA RHYMES
So the landlord led the way into a private little den.
But the bo'sun could not play, which plainly
thunderstruck the men,
So the detail of description is denied my rhyming
For their tactics were unusually wary,
In the layout of the tavern by the tidal river
On a sideboard were decanters, also wines of varied
Beneath a painted abigail of most peculiar mien,
Whose eyes betrayed a squintage, like a pair of
Charging- bayonets in a riot, both were uniformly
To the young commercial drummer who was losing
all his cash,
Jane administered a hummer of the whiskey labeled
And the bo'sun drank sufficient to become ex-
Had he understood the motive of the scene,
In the little tavern parlor by the tidal river Lea.
The charming Jane was playing a piano low and
With musical ability one hardly would expect,
Attired very neatly, and occasionally saying
Merry trifles to the bo'sun which were more than
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 57
Or arranged the shining glasses as each named his
And the potent fluid passes to promote exhilaration,
Till the bo'sun, growing reckless, stole a furtive os-
From the siren of the Anchor by the tidal river
She smiled on his caressing with an appetite for
And he marked a fervent feeling blazing plainly
in her eye ;
The diamond that she wore in the cincture of her
Shot a fiery rainbow sparkle, like her favor,
His pulse beat like a hammer, and his brain began
From the sympathetic glamour of that tender-heart-
Or the steaming whiskey toddy after sundry mugs
From the barrel in the cellar by the tidal river
He told her she was pretty, which was welcome
news to hear,
By the pinky hue that deepened on the round
And another glass of toddy filled his noble heart
I58 SEA RHYMES
That a previous engagement made it dangerous
The party cut and shuffled as it came unto their turn
Their hair wildly ruffled, but with faces set and stern,
While the coin chinked or jingled in the little silver
To be captured by some seeming lucky freak,
Of the gamblers in the tavern by the tidal river
Boniface was playing with the drummer quite
Against a local lawyer and his lordship, tho' they
But he played deliberately, fate is fickle, he was
And the liquor circulated quite regardless of the
So the drummer lost his coin, and despairing went
Departing on the morrow with a heavy aching head,
And was punished for embezzlement, a flying rumor
While the bo'sun o'er the ferry slowly crossed,
Rather weary of the tavern by the tidal river
The trio went carousing, each according to his
His lordship and mine host agreed the bo'sun
was a fool,
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA I 5 9
And they gave the pretty Janet, tho' her father
had been losing,
A douceur in token of her knack for keeping
Who repaired to the smithy, later on into the day
And had an artful gossip with old Benny by the way,
Who warned the handsome bo'sun that his manner
was too gay,
For the beauty of the village by the tidal river
He abused him somewhat coarsely, and the fisher
For a challenge from the bo'sun, they were both
about a size,
But his features only darkened, as he said, good
Meeting Marie by the ferry to his gratified sur-
Then he made a full confession, and the girl was
That he meant no slack affection for his late affi-
There they settled on a meeting by the haunted
Very early in the morning, down the tidal river
160 sea rhymes
There's a mighty -spreading oak, in the meadow
down the road,
Where the rocks afford a shelter to the bright-
eyed dingy toad,
There a stagnant pool of water o'er a pit has over-
On the border of the lowland,
Sinking in the lowlands low.
It is said that spirits hover o'er the green unhealthy
And that water witches gather here to brew in-
That deep below the surface many bones are lying
From the flooding of the lowlands,
Sunk into the lowlands low.
By the tidal river bounded, to or from the ocean
An artificial levee held the land in safer keeping,
When the tide came breaking through it, there
was misery and weeping,
'Mid the settlers of the lowland,
Toiling in the lowlands low.
It was here that Benny Rowland built a tiny little
And reclaimed a goodly portion of a twenty-acre lot,
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA l6l
Till the sea came madly rushing o'er the well-
Bringing ruin to the lowlands,
And mourning in the lowlands low.
A narrow path goes winding by the oak and up
Through a tangling of undergrowth, where all is
calm and still,
Save the trickle of some garrulous, but limpid lit-
Running down into the lowlands,
To sink in the lowlands low.
Grassy banks on either side where violets thickly
Or the dainty primrose clusters, where the sum-
mer breezes blow,
Here there ran a noisy brooklet, in the ages long
To the marshes of the lowlands,
To mingle in the lowlands low.
Down the levee from the village, one fine morning
bright and fair,
Came old Benny Rowland's daughter, with the
shining raven hair,
To the oak tree by the haunted pool, to meet her
For a journey through the lowland
To the pastor of the lowlands low.
1 62 SEA RHYMES
Some idle scandal monger with a tongue of ve-
Belied the bo'sun sorely as an evil-meaning gal-
Her father had insulted him, which turned the final
For a wedding in the lowlands,
In the chapel of the lowlands low.
They met and fondly wrestled to prolong the
Which circumstance appeared to enhance the situ-
While the birds were piping joyously, with subtle
Of the drama in the lowlands,
Enacted in the lowlands low.
Thro' the wood they went together, where the
sunlight flashes brightly,
Thro' the leaves which rustle o'er, as the fairies
Where the bluebell and the hyacinth are flirting
In the shadows of the lowland,
On the border of the lowlands low.
O'er a style of rude construction, down a lane of
Where fragrant honeysuckle or the wiry bramble
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 63
O'er a bridge, across a weedy swamp, of rushy
Draining over to the lowland,
Straining through the lowlands low.
By the spring of magic virtue, ever cool and lim-
Which insures the fond enamoured ones from
They honor the tradition by a momentary sipping,
Then hurry to the lowlands,
To marry in the lowlands low.
Past the wayside inn, where carven in the stone
above the door,
In the olden English lettering, are mottoes three
And a crumbling glass and bottle, of the misty
days of yore,
When the tide was on the lowlands,
Or ebbing from the lowlands low.
Up a hill and down another, where the grain was
By a clump of sturdy hemlock, where the rooks
are ever raving,
A colony whose twig-built homes, the wind and
Have a view of all the lowlands ;
They forage in the lowlands low.
1 64 SEA RHYMES
To the chapel on a hillock, and a tiny cottage ris-
Here the silver-haired old prophet did the week-
Splicing lovers who were stranded, and their prog-
For the settlers in the lowland,
Who labor in the lowlands low.
He listened as the bo'sun and his sweetheart told
His fine old face encircled by a silver flowing
Then he read the marriage service, from his ancient
And he blessed them in the lowland,
As they left him in the lowlands low.
The newly wedded lovers while the day was at its
Took the turnpike o'er the highland, but remained
awhile to rest,
In a little wayside cottage, quaint with old-time in-
On the borders of the lowland,
Which overlooks the lowlands low.
An ancient couple hobbled on the yellow sandy
Their rosy wrinkled faces with a welcome brim-
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 165
For the happy-looking pair, in the little candy store,
Where urchins of the lowlands,
Squandered pennies of the lowland low.
Here the bo'sun bought a package, of an infinite
And every youngster met that day, received a
Probably considered as a fad of high society
When visiting the lowlands
By the people of the lowlands low.
They wandered in the garden, which was gay with
Where the good old gaffer labored to the limit of
Admired the vines and roses on the funny little
And the honey of the lowlands,
Gathered in the lowlands low.
They were shown three generations of a sleek do-
A grandam and her daughter, who were purring
As they suckled seven kittens, each a bold ma-
But a feline of the lowlands,
The rovers of the lowlands low.
In the huge old-fashioned oven, now disused for
many a year,
1 66 SEA RHYMES
They had found two healthy litters squeaking hun-
grily and clear ;
The youngest generation was the one they chose
For the terror of the lowlands
Are vermin from the lowlands low.
How the dim old eyes did flicker as they bared
their toothless gums,
While the fluffy little midgets hunted friskily for
And they stared at the payment for the purchased
That the children of the lowlands
Might be merry in the lowlands low.
Backward looking when they parted, where the
roof showed red and hollow,
The jutting eaves a shelter for the mortared nest
When the old folks waved a towel while their dim
old eyes could follow
Down the highway of the lowlands,
Skirting by the lowlands low.
A cut across a meadow and a pathway by a wood,
Where sleek, contented cattle chew a philosophic
Little recking of the future and the shedding of
By the butchers of the lowlands,
Who prosper in the lowlands low.
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 67
Peering in the forest glades for vaguely cherished
Where long-eared rabbits rustle and the squirrels
And pigs as black as Erebus alternate root or frisk,
As they ramble to the lowlands,
Or wander in the lowlands low.
They startle in a scamper, and a headlong rushing
The nose of every porker there is innocent of
But a monster boar opposes a formidable obstacle
To the pair from the lowlands,
United in the lowlands low.
His face is long and massive, and his nose is broad
His ears are prodigious and nearly meet in front,
And gleaming yellow tushes emphasize a warning
From the monarch of the lowlands,
Who wallows in the lowlands low.
They leave him to his dignity beneath the spread-
Which was better manifestly for the happiness of
For a newly married couple or a boar are hard to
Be it either in the lowlands
Or other than the lowlands low.
1 68 SEA RHYMES
They clamber o'er another stile, and out across the
The manor lies between them and the tidal river
Beyond is seen the village, with the belfry rising
Their visit to the lowlands,
Recorded in the lowlands low.
Benny Rowland had arisen with the lark
To arrange for the business of the day,
And he strode down the street with an echo to his
As the far horizon shone a pearly gray.
A grand old man was Benny, tall and upright as
Taciturn in manner, but withal of kindly heart.
About an hour later on, his daughter made a start,
For this morning ushered in her wedding-day,
But of that she kept her counsel, she had studied
out her part,
And required no other prompter in the play.
Benny labored in the smithy till the noon,
Returning for his dinner, to the cot.
The meal was lying ready, but phenomenally soon,
And beside it lay an empty pewter pot.
The maiden was not visible, and tho' an anxious
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 69
Made his stout old heart grow heavy, very much
against his will,
He reasoned that she went to gather herbs upon
Which accounted for the meal not being hot,
So he took the pewter measure down the cellarway
It foaming from a barrel of the best that 'could
Then he went to the smithy back again,
And labored till the dusk of evening fell,
When he casually ran into the company of Jane,
Who had something on her mind she wished to
For she loved the jolly bo'sun with a love exceed-
And had guessed the haunted pool to be their
So vengefully she furnished Benny Rowland with
Making furious ^motion in him swell;
Yet he kept a prudent silence till the evening meal
And determined he would dissipate the spell.
Marie marked the grim suspicion in his look,
As morosely he surveyed the simple fare,
Omitting to be merry on her merits as a cook,
Which was something most peculiarly rare.
Then he silently arose, and strode away into the
170 SEA RHYMES
Where a ragged, cloudy drift obscured Cynthia's
And she waited for her husband, in an agony of
The rosy hue her bonny face forsook,
While the wind arising gustily with chilly, sullen
Smote the cottage till the tiny building shook.
But the bo'sun came precisely at the hour,
And clasped her in a pair of loving arms ;
The indefinable terror from that moment had no
To arouse her tender soul in wild alarms ;
They waited till the morning showed a streak of
But the foot of Benny Rowland never sounded on
With sinister presentiments the wedded pair lay,
A prey to many conscientious qualms,
Tho' in certain hopeful intervals it moveth me to say
That the gloomy situation had its charms.
Then they lit the kitchen fire, and prepared
A collation from whatever they could find,
And made a hearty breakfast, tho' the little wife
While the bo'sun seemed a trifle more resigned.
He left her in the cottage, to report himself aboard,
Told the captain he was married to the lady he
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 171
And the crew with sudden ecstasy so jubilantly
That the rhymer in a hogshead was confined ;
But he bellowed through the bunghole of a theory
That the God of Love is veritably blind.
The captain, like a hero, gave the word,
And the bo'sun piped all hands for extra grog,
The rhymer liberated that his banjo might be
And a holiday was entered on the log.
Someone set his wits to work and studied out a
To celebrate the wedding of their brother sailor-
And schemed the biggest racket, since the universe
Had ever graced the lowland catalogue,
Which met vociferous applause, the novel notion
Through the vessel like a can behind a dog.
The captain laid a shiny stove-pipe hat
On the capstan, and the tars went lurching
And loaned the thriftless rhymer half a sovereign,
He might muster with the " men " before the
Every sailor told the girl, who told a dozen more,
172 SEA RHYMES
Who made their sweethearts agitate the enter-
The village school was voted, till the great event
While contributions came in thick and fast.
A grand piano standing in a corner of the floor
Was the mite a charming widow lent the ball-
room at the last.
The steward and the chef for once agreed,
And evolved a rather lavish bill of fare,
Laid out nicely in the infant school, against the
time of need,
And the exhibition made the people stare.
The sailors scrubbed the boards of the floor clean
Then waxed-and-turpentined until it glistened won-
drous bright ;
Flags festooning gayly hid the bare walls from
All the sailors clad in uniform were there ;
While a host of Chinese lanterns furnished many-
And the tars were well instructed not to swear.
A wagon-load of flowers and evergreens,
Whiskey, brandy, gin, and ginger-pop,
Lemonade and sandwiches, with Boston pork and
The contributions never seemed to stop ;
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 73
The infant school invaded by the trestle-work and
Set with great diversity of many-fashioned wares,
Bonbons, fruit and flowers, still arriving up the
Borrowed, begged, or purchased at the shop,
The jolly sailors waiting on the throng that capered
In the intervals between each lively hop.
A piano made the music echo grand
When persuaded by the village organist ;
Young Harold, with an old Cremona fiddle, smil-
Swayed the dancers by the cunning of his wrist.
The village in its Sunday garb had entered in the
The sailors showed their sweethearts how the fig-
ures should be done,
One universal grin among the dancers seemed to
E'en the spinsters were most liberally kissed ;
And the captain's nose grew redder as he glorious-
Till a drop of perspiration on it hissed.
The dominie was capering with glee,
The sexton grew hilarious for once ;
The choristers, conspicuously out upon the spree,
Were flirting with refreshing eloquence ;
174 SEA RHYMES
The aged people gazing on the scene of whirling
Occasionally stricken by a species of insanity,
One wild phantasmagoria of chuckling humanity,
Where no one but a cripple was a dunce ;
A big bass viol droning with a musical urbanity,
Or guffawing in short delirious grunts.
There might have been a famine in the land
By the way in which the dainties disappeared,
And a corpulent old lady with a bottle in her hand
Was said to be phenomenally cheered ;
Then the landlord of the Anchor sang a free and
With sly gesticulation and exposure of the tongue,
And the cheering when he finished was uproar-
iously long ;
Then the rhymer, who was moderately beered,
Sang the favorite Old Shandy with a chorus wild
And the general effect was something weird.
After finishing the vocal exercise,
The captain of the vessel made a speech,
When he said the large attendance was a heavenly
That his heart was full of more than he could
Then alluded to the bo'sun's hurried wedding as
Of this tribute to the little god, of omnipresent laws,
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 75
When involuntary rapture opened wide the public
And they cheered in an ear-splitting screech.
So the skipper, much elated in his spirit, had to
Aware that his voice would never reach.
When the cataclysm of ecstasy had died,
He professed an ardent passion for the sex,
Their beauty paralyzed him with a paroxysm of
As he wiped a furtive tear from his specs ;
Said Memory would evermore cherish this event,
Thanking one and everybody for accommodation
Then he called upon the bo'sun, as the time was
But a queer fact transpired to perplex —
The bo'sun was not there, no one saw him as he went,
But his absence was an incident to vex.
A few old people made a short address,
The final anthem sung by one and all,
And the school-room was deserted in a twinkling
Wending homeward as the couples chanced to
The rhymer saw his charmer to her door safe and
Making love with desperation, o'er the intervening
176 SEA RHYMES
Who granted him permission, when his fortune
To marry her — the privilege was small.
And the twitter of the sparrows was the most
In the dawning of the morning of the ball.
Early in the night the bo'sun left,
For Marie's anxious fears made him sad,
Her father's disappearance made her feel as if bereft
Of the only real friend she ever had ;
And that morn a local farmer, as he passed the
To take away some ware he had loaned the vil-
Fished a hat from off the surface, which he carried
like a fool
To the cottage, leaving Marie nearly mad,
For she knew it by the accidental branding of a
Which left the matter looking very bad.
The neighbors, sympathizing with her grief,
Formed a party to investigate the case.
So they dragged the stagnant water, and their
search was very brief,
Ere they saw poor Benny Rowland's livid face.
A bullet-hole above the ear was noticed in his
So before he struck the water he was evidently
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 77
They reverently carried him and laid him in a shed,
After washing from his form all muddy trace,
And a hoary-headed fisherman a deputation led
Who broke the news to Marie with a tender-
The sergeant prowled around the hollow trunk,
Discovering a recent trace of fire
About a narrow aperture that whimsically sunk
Through the shell, 'twas partly hidden by a briar;
'Twas an easy feat to enter from the opening in the
Branches jutting out up which 'twas possible to
Like a ladder ; at the bottom one could hear out-
By the slits, if anyone should so desire,
The knotty-grained interior, left nothing more to
The exit or the entry of an unsuspected spier.
The coroner impanelled fishermen
To form a legal jury, and they found
A verdict that the body from the basin of the fen
Had been murdered by a bullet, also drowned.
Over Marie's bitter sorrow I will draw a kindly
As she mourned o'er the features gleaming rigidly
For somehow words are feeble to relate the touch-
178 SEA RHYMES
Which hangs about the ivy-covered mound,
Where for many days and nights there came an
eerie, lonely wail,
From the throat of Benny Rowland's faithful
In the village, for a fortnight and a day,
The popular excitement was intense ;
And the finger of suspicion seemed to point the
Sustained by circumstantial evidence.
His foot-marks were measured all about the hollow
And the day before he vanished there were words
in anger spoke,
When the witnesses remembered how the bo'sun
seemed to choke,
When taxed with some mysterious offense,
And a surgeon proved the bullet, with a calm vin-
To be fashioned by no English implements.
For it fitted a revolver Jane produced,
From the room wherein he usually slept,
With a chamber lately emptied, that was owned by
the accused ;
This the council of inquiry wisely kept.
So the sergeant with a warrant for immediate ar-
On a charge of wilful murder, by the document
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA Ijg
Went a hunting for the bo'sun, with a feeling in
That no error in their logic could have crept.
Marie's tale was credited to wifely interest,
And 'twas hinted there was reason why she wept.
His lordship was not home about that time,
And no one was aware of his address ;
'Twas a call of urgent business, so the story of the
Could have only met his notice through the press.
The evening he went away the murdered man was
His lordship shortly afterward had crossed the
To the railway ; so the sergeant to the nearest town
The necessary warrant to possess.
If his lordship had been home his proper function
would have been,
As a justice, to have done it, and assist them more
The rhymer went to Marie with a note,
And she told him of the peril-laden cloud ;
Her eyes were dim with weeping, so he read the
And reported the affair to the crowd.
Incipient rebellion was born among the crew,
Who scouted the idea that the charge could e'er
be true ;
l80 SEA RHYMES
They swore to back the bo'sun, till they took the
vessel too ;
With adjectives profanely uttered loud.
The captain gained an inkling of the storm about
As they went about their duties, heavy browed.
Then Marie came aboard for awhile,
And they held a conversation when they met.
She handed him a bundle, with a melancholy smile,
And their parting was a moment to forget ;
She had brought her father's clothing for the fugi-
tive to wear,
When he found it safe to meet her, by the haunted
The murder was committed, none would pry upon
them there —
The innocent have nothing to regret.
At eleven in the evening she would wait a sudden
Of a lucifer extinguished after quickly flashing jet.
The captain pondered long upon the news
And listened to the bo'sun's bonny bride,
Resolving to assist them by a very simple ruse,
For he had the moorings dropped from off the
Repairs were now completed and the crew were all
The tanks were full of water, and provisions safely
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA l8l
The sails were loosed and sheeted home, the zeph-
yrs gayly poured,
And they sailed down the river with the tide,
While a much bediddled sergeant on a jetty vainly
Looking anything but calmly dignified.
The banks widened outward as they went,
They sailed like a witch across the bay ;
But they had to drop their anchor, for the lucky
wind was spent,
When the bo'sun pulled ashore, and ran away.
The intercepting cruiser searched the vessel fore
The captain met them kindly with a well-dissem-
bled craft ;
But they left the vessel baffled, and the skipper
Inviting them to call another day.
Then he made the rhymer bo'sun, whom the sailors
For the bo'sun's pipe is difficult to play.
Marie's husband donned poor Benny Rowland's
Finding they were not a bit too big ;
An artificial beard, after shaving I suppose,
An iron-gray mustache, and bushy wig,
And the sharpest-eyed detective in the city would
1 82 SEA RHYMES
That the venerable yeoman, in the evening ex-
Was a fugitive from justice ; neither that he could
Any coin in that dingy battered rig.
The skipper had provided him with money in ex-
Of what was justly due him from the brig.
He quietly hired lodgings in a little wayside inn,
Half a dozen miles across the moor,
Where he waited for a day or two, before he dared
To ramble down toward the river shore.
One night he visited the oak, and in a narrow rift
Inside the hollow trunk he found a note, and
To his lodging, where he gathered from the in-
Of seeming empty phrases scribbled o'er,
That pursuit was reckoned hopeless, and she looked
for him to lift
The load from off her spirit, troubled sore.
He answered in an enigmatic key,
In case it chanced to fall in other hands,
So that nothing should be known by any other one
That her husband had not fled to other lands.
And Marie walking daily where her father met his
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 83
Found the scrawl and read the meaning with a
catching- of the breath ;
For her faith was of the quality which never waver-
And she longed for the clasp of loving hands ;
Heeding little what the lawyer, or the sage old
Her instinct being all she understands.
The lord of the manor was young and bold,
And he lavished his ancestor's hoarded gold,
Till the coffers were dwindling lower and lower;
So he cudgelled his wits to produce some more.
Mine host of the Anchor, the lawyer, and he,
Had joined in a treacherous gang of three
And woe to the gallant who went their way,
For he came out lame
From a desperate game,
Which frequently happens at play.
They noted the weight of the bo'sun's purse,
And the lord of the manor by tricks diverse,
Inveigled him into their cosey den,
To meet his associate sporting men ;
Who found with a feeling of blank dismay,
That the bo'sun had never known how to play.
But they cleverly made it a jocular theme,
And he chose to remain
With the beautiful Jane,
Who was lost in a perilous dream.
1 84 SEA RHYMES
The lawyer had captured a casual friend,
Who was gently gulled as a great godsend :
He wagered his money with cheerful heart,
For a fool and his property ought to part ;
The morn was beaming in streaks of gray,
'Ere the revellers, rising, reeled away,
When the lawyer advanced the plucked pigeon a
With a generous air
To purchase his fare,
And speedy return by the road he had come.
And the bo'sun crossing the river climbed
The gangway ladder, as clearly chimed
The hour of five, and the pipe rang shrill,
When the tars turned to, with a cheery will.
His lordship, merrily jesting, went
To the bo'sun's room, with serene content.
Arising late, when he chanced to find
A revolver placed,
With forgetful haste,
On a window-sill under the blind.
A handsome weapon of foreign make ;
So his lordship borrowed it, more to take
A shot as he rambled across the moor,
At a rabbit to see how it tumbled o'er.
But Jane diverted his first intent,
By saying the blacksmith's daughter went
To the haunted pool, in the eventide.
The artful miss
For the bo'sun's kiss,
Left never a scheme untried.
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 85
She noted his anger with great relief,
Believing her rival would come to grief;
Knowing his lordship willing to pay
For removing an obstacle out of his way ;
His lordship, however, preferred to see
For himself, so he hid in the hollow tree,
Where a crevice had furnished an outlook fair,
On any who strayed.
And here he made
An excellent watch for the innocent pair.
That night he waited, without success,
For Marie was suffering great distress,
While the voice of her father in anger strong,
Was accusing her lover of treacherous wrong ;
Who listened with never a harsh reply,
But a furious glint in his resolute eye.
Then he met poor Marie with heart downcast,
And the lovers agreed,
With a wondrous speed,
To be wed ere the following night was past.
On the wedding night in the hollow tree,
His lordship waited patiently.
The blacksmith hurrying thro' the night,
By the haunted pool arrived all right ;
A murderous slowly formed idea,
In his lordship's mind arising clear.
If the bo'sun's revolver were picked up near
Where the bo'sun died,
'Twould be suicide,
And he had the revolver here.
1 86 SEA RHYMES
If he missed his aim, 'twas a jest to scare,
Who he thought was the bo'sun waiting there ;
Who probably would not care to wait,
In such an event, to investigate.
The moon was hidden in cloudy drift,
But he took good aim from the narrow rift,
Which steadied his sight on the shadowy head.
A deafening bang
In the silence rang,
And the blacksmith fell in the pool stone dead.
Half in the rushes arising rank,
Where a fagot had drifted against the bank ;
So his lordship gave him a vigorous shove,
As a break in the clouds that careered above,
Illumined the scene with a ghastly glare,
When he saw who it was he had murdered there
And a picture was graven deep into his brain,
Fated never to fade,
Till his body was laid,
Not far from the grave of the man he had slain.
He floated out with his face thrown back,
On the drifted cushion of floating wrack,
As the fugitive beam of moonlight flew
O'er the face besplashed with a crimson hue.
On the long gray beard and the grinning teeth,
E'er the corpse sank silently down beneath ;
And his lordship glared at the horrible scene,
Then into the wood,
O'er rocks and mud,
He wildly rushed to the village green.
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 87
'Twas deserted (the hour of eleven had struck)
Which he hailed as a token of excellent luck ;
Into the Anchor, and rang the bell,
Where brandy steadied his conscience well,
The weapon replaced where he found it first,
For he shunned it now as a thing accurst ;
Carried a bag to the midnight train,
For a week and a day,
Since the outlawed bo'sun returned again.
His looks had suffered a marvellous change,
His manner was moody, and oftimes strange,
When the lamps were lit, if his eyes would close
The ghastly vision at once uprose ;
So he dranked and smoked till the break of day,
When the dire delusion passed away,
Which haunted the night with a horrible dread.
When the sunlight fell,
He would breakfast well,
Then he slept in the absent bo'sun's bed,
The window commanded a splendid view
Of the haunted pool, and the river too.
Each night he would peer at the stagnant mere,
Impelled by a feeling of mortal fear,
For every night as eleven clashed,
By the haunted water a bright light flashed,
Like the sudden gush of a pistol flame ;
But floating back,
No whip-like crack,
To his listening ears came.
1 88 SEA RHYMES
One moonlit night, in a frenzied state,
He hurried forth at a headlong gait,
For it seemed to his highly distempered mind,
That a million demons pursued behind.
Disguised in a long, black, hooded cloak,
He rushed to the haunted pool and oak,
And there on the edge of the loathsome flood,
With a smile so weird,
And the long gray beard,
The ghost of the murdered blacksmith stood.
And the grisly arms in a vengeful clutch,
Encircled his waist, with a rigid touch,
A shuddering groan, and a maniac yell,
His lordship downward heavily fell,
And the phantom bending never spoke,
But tore off the shrouding long black cloak,
When the breeched extremities plainly showed,
And the short cut hair,
To a Gorgon glare,
When a baritone voice said, "Well, I'm blowed."
Twas the cloak which misled the bo'sun's glance,
For Marie had bought by a singular chance
A similar garment, hooded too ;
The srrass had deadened the heavier shoe,
So he gave the figure a fond embrace,
With a glistening smile on his bearded face,
But the agonized howl in the silent night,
And his lordship's swoon,
By the light of the moon
Made the bo'sun continue, " Well, blow me tight."
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 1 89
Over his shoulder like a sack,
The bo'sun carried him halfway back ;
When Marie came tripping along so gay,
Humming a rustic roundelay ;
Wiho, before the bo'sun had time to speak,
Gave vent to a vigorous female shriek ;
And the crew of a schooner stranded near,
Came tearing along
To right her wrong,
All chock full of valor and beer.
They gathered around with a threatening air
Demanding the bo'sun's business there ;
But his lordship awoke, and began to rave
Of a man he had shot, who had left his grave.
Then the bo'sun, in Benny Rowland's dress,
Sepulchrally ordered him to confess,
And the crew of the schooner all could swear,
To the gruesome tale
Which the trembling, pale,
And cowardly villain unfolded there.
It never occurred to the terrified wretch,
That his neck on the gallows would probably stretch,
Till they came to the Anchor and surged inside,
With the story of how the blacksmith died.
In the bo'sun's room he began to think,
But he steadied his palsied nerve by a drink,
And the lock as it sprung with an ominous click,
Told a sinister tale.
Of the county jail,
So the murderer made up his mind right quick.
IQO SEA RHYMES
His dressing-case lay on a closet shell,
For the furbishing up of his valued self
After bibulous nights in the secret game,
And he peered therein by the candle's flame.
Certain documents took and burnt,
But what their nature could ne'er be learnt,
And a razor of genuine Sheffield blade,
With a shadowy sheen,
Beneath his pillow he carefully laid.
From a delicate phial of morphine pills,
Provided to settle his nervous ills,
Deliberate counting a threefold dose,
For his instinct told him the end was close ;
Then closing the lid of the toilet-case,
He lifted it back to its usual place,
And his teeth set tight in a vicious snap.
From sheer despair,
He silently grinned like a rat in a trap.
He stripped himself with unusual speed,
Got into bed, which was strange indeed,
Finished the brandy and swallowed the drug,
And settled himself in the pillow snug,
With a twist of the head till the jugular vein,
In the soft white muscle was beating plain,
His left hand holding the gleaming wedge,
To the delicate skin,
With a dreamy grin,
That a soul should ride on a razor's edge.
LEGEND OF THE TIDAL RIVER LEA 191
When the eyelids fell with a nerveless droop,
He made one feeble convulsive scoop
And a neat little nick in the sanguine duct,
While a curious noise in his windpipe clucked,
A shower of viscous crimson rain,
Went spurting out o'er the counterpane,
And his worthless soul winged out to well,
'Tis a bigoted haste,
And atrocious taste,
To blather where any poor soul shall dwell.
The sergeant returned from the nearest town
With a warrant galloping hastily down,
For the lord of the manor was magistrate,
Which left the law in a ticklish state ;
But the justice had, in an abstract sense,
Done justice, free from the vast expense
Entailed by the common judicial sieve,
And the legal cliques
Of quibbling tricks
Who manage by hook or by crook to live.
One good action, however, they did,
They found at the manor a document hid,
Which proved that a marriage had taken place
'Twixt the last of his lordship's reckless race,
And the fisherman's daughter. Who thus became
A highly respected and envied dame.
But she sent for the rhymer from over the seas,
And the singular pair,
Were united there ;
So his banjo plunks 'mid the grand old trees.
192 SEA RHYMES
Finding his lordship cold and stiff,
The sergeant went with a dubious sniff,
And finding the bo'sun down below,
He served the old warrant of which you know.
But the judge annulling the unjust ban,
The bo'sun became a most popular man,
And that night ere he slept in the blacksmith's cot,
His wife and he
Had the jolliest spree,
For the village apologized on the spot.
The smithy a capital warehouse made,
For a perfectly legal but scaly trade ;
His progeny toddles along to school,
Or go, which is wrong, to the haunted pool,
To cast a stone at the hollow tree,
Now full to the top, as it ought to be,
For the gloomy feeling the place inspired.
And a favorite mark,
On the gnarled old bark,
Is the rift where the fatal shot was fired.
And whither the Yankee vessel sailed,
Is a dubious point, where records failed.
The far-away port from whence she came,
Her tonnage, and gunnage, or Christian name,
Are gone with a glamour of mystery
Deep into the bowels of history.
The exact date of the famous ball
Even, cannot be found,
Which furnishes ground,
For a guess that I possibly dreamed it all.
Price, 50 cents
i. Digger's Luck
3. Legend of the Tidal River Lea
TROW DIRECTORY, PRINTING AND BOOKBINDING CO.
201-213 East Twelfth Street
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